We know that a visit to the doctor’s surgery can be difficult and usually it’s very personal, sometimes embarrassing. You do get used to going through an interpreter to make appointments, discuss prescriptions and for the actual consultations – after all, they do have their own code of conduct etc – but believe me, there are times when I really don’t want another person involved!

For some things, I just want to talk to the doctor directly. Not unreasonable I think. And, of course, there are occasions when you need an emergency appointment and there’s simply no time to arrange for an interpreter.

So I set about trying to find a list of doctors who could use sign language, thinking that would be straightforward in this technological age. I was wrong!

A search of the internet came up with articles on the need for such a facility, several agencies offering confidential medical interpretation support (important, but not what I was after), and a useful but long, 20 minute video from the regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC) on what I can expect from my GP (http://www.gmc-uk.org/publications/23387.asp) but not a list of suitably skilled doctors.

I contacted the very helpful advisory team at the GMC and they explained that data protection legislation prevents them or employers from keeping information about doctors who are deaf themselves. Surprising that.

To find out about doctors who have additional skills like sign language, I’d have to contact my local primary care services, for England this is usually the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and ask if they kept any such records. They don’t have to do this, but some might.

So I’m left wondering what other people have done. Do you rely on interpreters or a family member, did you find and register with a deaf doctor, or one who can use sign language, or have you found some other solution?

I’d really like to hear about your experiences, so please get in touch at info@deafax.org