Following being struck off by my dentist on Friday 10th February after my complaints of lack of Deaf access I’ve discovered the process of redress is weight heavily in favour of the dentist and the NHS also has no standard provision for deaf access in communicating with NHS services via email, skype or even text message.
There is also no information on what to do if you are struck off. How to find another dentist/doctor surgery and how to resolve it.
What I have found out in order to get redress I have to write to the dental practice as a complaint and wait for their response.
Only then if I am unhappy with their response can I can take it up with the Health Service Ombudsman to raise the issue (this could take months). I have managed to find PALS (Patients Advice and Liaison Services) which each NHS area offers as a liaison point for patients and who can advise and help sort out issues with NHS services – at last an email address I can get advice from.
I tried to find out what my rights under The Equalities Act from The Equalities Commission only to get this email reply:
This is a real *facepalm* moment even the body given the responsibility for equalities legislation is ignoring Deaf access!
It creates a two tear service one that enables hearing people to receive instant access to information and none for Deaf and hard of hearing people (unless you get someone to ring for you or use Text Direct Service).
It is striking that the only leaflet I could find called NHS Dentistry in England Information for Patients has this to say:
So how does that help Deaf patients if you can’t phone and your surgery don’t allow you to email or text them?
Are there any Deaf friendly dentists anywhere?
My search for a new dentist shows none of the listed dentists have an email address so I’m now on a google search to find out if they have a website (and therefore an email address to contact). Most on the NHS search I found also don’t have wheelchair access and none I have found even had an induction loop according. I’m reaching out to friends and asking do they know of any Deaf friendly dentists.
Why do I feel that is going to be a right challenge? Not just for me either. There are about 8.7 million Deaf and Hard of hearing people in the UK. Every single one of us needs a dentist and a means of contacting them.
I am not hopeful of a resolution as the Stirchely Dental Practice receptionist made it quite clear that they would not give me any information in writing when I asked and despite telling me I could write in if I was not happy(!) and also did not offer me a copy of their complaints policy which they are supposed to do so.
A fantastic comment from John Adams who posted a really straightforward solution: