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Surgery pays out after sign language failings

Surgery pays out after sign language failings
23rd July 2021 Ian Streets

The daughter of a deaf woman has been paid more than £4,000 by a GP surgery in Belfast over a failure to offer a sign language interpreter for appointments.
The BBC reported that the surgery made the payment of £4,250 in the case of Ida Curlett without admission of liability. The Equality Commission said the case highlighted a failure to provide access to everyday services.
The BBC reported that Ida Curlett, who died in 2019, relied on her daughter Carole to interpret for her during appointments at the Parkside Surgery, but neither of them were aware they were entitled to an interpreter until told by a taxi driver in 2018.
The disability discrimination case was brought by Carole Curlett on behalf of her mother with support from the Equality Commission which said Ida, who was a British Sign Language user, was never offered a sign language interpreter at any of her many GP appointments despite being a patient for more than 30 years.
Carole said her mother found the lack of privacy “difficult”.
She told the BBC: “It was a strain on both of us. I’m glad it is settled now, but I can’t help feeling aggrieved that we went through all those years not even knowing she was entitled to an interpreter.”
Anne McKernan, director of legal services for the Equality Commission, said it was “disappointing” the commission was still dealing with the failure to provide access to everyday services. She added that the failure had put an “unfair burden on the unofficial interpreter”.
Ms McKernan said: “Not having a professional interpreter in place in a medical setting could give rise to problems not just for the patient, but also the practice – problems such as misdiagnosis, misunderstanding of how to follow a treatment plan or inadequate informed consent.”
The BBC reported that Parkside Surgery has agreed to use the services of sign language interpreters in future when dealing with deaf patients and to advertise the facility clearly within the surgery.

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