Helpline service for deaf people


We have special provision to help deaf people, through partnership with Sign Health’s video relay service for deaf people. 

The Patients Association has formed a partnership with Sign Health.Sign Health campaigns to improve healthcare for Deaf people. They also provide sign language services including online translation, supported living and mental health therapies, and have won the Third Sector Excellence Award for 2016.  The award is given to a charity or social enterprise that is pushing the boundaries of digital technology to reach supporters, donors or beneficiaries.

Now deaf people can contact the Patients Association Helpline using InterpreterNow.  Interpreter Now has been recognised for revolutionising telecommunications for Deaf sign language users. The service can be accessed through any internet-connected computer with a webcam, as well as free apps on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. Deaf people can make a call to a fully qualified British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter who will phone a service or organisation on their behalf. The interpreter will sign to the deaf person via the video link, speak with the hearing person over the telephone and relay the conversation back and forth. Using the service gives deaf people the opportunity to make a video call in their first language; a smoother and faster experience for all call participants compared to text-based relay services.

InterpreterNow provides almost immediate communicate in real time enabling Deaf people to call the Patients Association Helpline.

It's so simple and easy to use. I am really pleased that The Patients Association and SignHealth are working together to make services accessible to deaf people.

The New Accessible Information Standard in force since 31st July 2016

Deaf people now have a legal right to request a fully qualified British Sign Language interpreter in any healthcare setting – GP surgery, hospital, dentist, clinic – to assist with their communication needs.  Adult health and social care providers must follow strict guidelines to ensure deaf people have equal access to healthcare, such as providing an interpreter if an interpreter is requested.

It is now the Health provider’s responsibility to book and pay for the interpreter, and not the responsibility of the deaf patient.  A fully qualified British Sign Language Interpreter should be used, to make sure that the patient can make fully informed decisions, and to enable the doctor to make a complete and accurate diagnosis.

Unless a patient specifically tells you that they want a family member or friend to interpret for them, under no circumstances should you ask. Using a fully qualified interpreter ensures information is translated clearly meaning the patient can make fully informed decisions and the doctor can make accurate diagnoses.

SignHealth provide an online interpreting service called InterpreterNow which can be used for deaf people wanting to get help from the Patients Association Helpline. Please contact the InterpreterNow team for more information.