NHS Rapid Review of BSL/English Interpreting commissioning arrangements

04 August 2021

Since 2009, we have worked to protect the public by regulating language service professionals on the NRCPD registers across the United Kingdom, making sure they meet the required minimum standards for high quality language service provision in the public sector.

NHS England and NHS improvement recognised that communication with Deaf BSL users within healthcare was largely ineffective and urgently commissioned a rapid review of BSL/English interpreting commissioning arrangements within the NHS. NRCPD recently gave evidence for this and the recommendations were released earlier this week. These recommendations for improvements have been agreed with NHS England and NHS Improvement and fall into three categories:

  • Recommendation 1: Each Integrated Care System developing common BSL/English services for their populations.
  • Recommendation 2: Developing an enhanced single, national, urgent BSL/English Interpreter support service.
  • Recommendation 3: Improving the quality and education linked to British Sign Language support.

NRCPD fully back these recommendations agreed by the NHS and look forward to seeing these improvements in place. As the UK national regulator of language service professionals, many of the professionals on our registers work in healthcare settings enabling deaf people to be included effectively, and safely, in their own care and treatment. Access to health services has long been difficult for deaf people, and exacerbated by the current public health crisis, and so we welcome these improvements, which will improve access and outcomes for Deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people in healthcare.

Marcus Hawthorn, the NRCPD Executive Director and Registrar states: “These recommendations are an important step forward but as always it takes something going wrong for a review like this to be carried out and implementation across a fragmented NHS is where Deaf people have traditionally been failed. We need NHS England to replace the provision for deaf people in the Accessible Information Standard with stronger, centrally sponsored and mandatory language service and equality standards so that deaf, Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and deafblind people get the access to health care that they are entitled to. We call on NHS England to work with NRCPD and others to develop these and we looking forward to working with them.”

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