Dad calls on hospital to be more ‘deaf aware’

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A KIRKCALDY dad is calling on NHS Fife to be more deaf aware after he was left with his sick baby son at Victoria Hospital - unable to communicate with staff.

William Dolan’s worries come after he struggled to make an emergency appointment at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and was not provided with an interpreter so he could explain his son’s condition to medical staff.

The incident happened at the start of the year - and now NHS Fife are looking into it.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Dolan (27) told The Press he texted the hospital to get an emergency appointment for his son who had bronchitis.

“I waited throughout the Saturday evening and Sunday but on Monday night I decided I could not wait any longer as his condition was getting worse so I went straight to the hospital,’’ he said.

“I had to try to explain that English is not my first language - British Sign Language is. They had to phone for an interpreter and I was left holding my baby who was crying.

“There is a list of interpreters who cover Scotland and who who can be contacted in an emergency, and I was getting really anxious while I waited.

“Twice they shouted my son’s name but of course I was unable to hear.

“After I had been there for two hours, I was taken to see the doctor, but there was no interpreter.

“I was so upset. I just had to sit while the doctor gave me a piece of paper.

“The next day I went straight to the Deaf Communications Service to explain what had happened.

“They said there was only one interpreter who lives in Fife but they were on another job. I said the NHS has a list of interpreters it can contact - it was just not bothered.”

Mr Dolan said five days after he had first contacted the NHS he got a reply to say a hospital appointment could now be made.

Last month he had to take his son to the audiology department at the Victoria for a check up and was assured an interpreter would be there.

But Mr Dolan said: “The guy there was not a qualified interpreter and his signs were very confusing so I couldn’t understand what was being said.”

He added: “Things have to change and NHS Fife needs to be made aware of the rights of deaf people.”

Anne Buchanan, NHSFife board nurse director, said: “We are aware of Mr Dolan’s concerns and are sorry that his experiences have not been the positive ones we would have wished.

“Our equality and diversity team has been in discussions with Mr Dolan on the issues he has raised and has looked at further support.

‘‘We are undertaking several projects to improve technology for people with hearing impairments, which will develop in the coming months.”