Disabled patients face a number of challenges accessing GP surgeries, says Sheffield charity

Patients with a variety of different disabilities have spoken about the challenges they face accessing GP surgeries but small changes can make a big difference.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 3:57 pm

People who use wheelchairs, are deaf, have visual impairments or have autism have taken part in a video by Disability Sheffield to raise awareness.

The charity says by law, public sector organisations have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people but research shows 60 per cent of GP surgeries are failing to do so.

Even getting into a surgery can be difficult. One woman said: “You have to go around the back because at the front is steps. You go around the back but there’s a car park which is sometimes crammed with cars so you can’t get between them.

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Patients who use wheelchairs have told Disability Sheffield about the struggles they have accessing GP surgeries (image: Disability Sheffield)

“They have a door which is supposed to be automatic and mostly it works but not always. They only have automatic doors in one place, everywhere else you have to push the door.”

One woman who uses a wheelchair said: “They have a basin, but the soap in the mirror is too high up on the wall so it’s not actually accessible for a wheelchair user.

“They have a red cord that’s tied up on the wall but if someone were to fall on the floor, they can’t actually reach it in order to get any help or assistance.

“Also the toilets often use a stall cupboard so you can’t actually get in with your wheelchair.”

Deaf patients told Disability Sheffield they face a number of struggles at GP surgeries (image: Disability Sheffield)

High counters which people in wheelchairs struggle to look over are also a problem.

Deaf patients raised a number of issues. One man said it would only cost GP surgeries £10 a month to have a phone for deaf clients.

He added: “Quite a lot of deaf people will not be comfortable with using somebody to make a phone call for them.

“They are also not aware they are being called into the doctor’s surgery, there are some beeper alerts but not all surgeries have them. And a lot of them struggle because interpreters haven’t been booked.”

Visually impaired people struggle to use self check-in machines and find it unhelpful when their name is called but they can’t see where to go.

One woman said it would help if staff gave specific directions. “Using expressions like sit over there or go down that way, weren’t always very helpful. Most precise directions and using left and right or offering to accompany a person to the correct place is better.”

Another person said: “In the doctors they have like all these leaflets and notices everywhere and they’re dotted all over the walls and high up and tiny.

“Really, if you’re going to share this information, everybody should be able to actually see and read it.”

Alert flags next to patients’ records would help staff be aware the person needs extra support. And something as simple as staff facing a patient when speaking to them can make a big difference.

The full Disability Sheffield video is available here