Deaf patients avoid GP visits

Twenty-eight per cent of deaf patients avoid visiting their GP because they find it hard to communicate, say UK researchers.

It is estimated that there are close to nine million people in the UK who are hard of hearing.

But researchers from King's College London have warned that there is a basic lack of deaf awareness and appropriate communication support offered by healthcare professionals.

They call for basic instruction in deaf awareness and appropriate communication tactics to be added to the medical curriculum to ensure that access to essential health services is fair.

Without this training, the GMC's claim that GPs finish medical education ready to 'give patients the information they want or need in a way they can understand' may be unrealistic, the researchers say.

- BMJ Online 2008.

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