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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs urged to adopt sign language translation tool

By Joanne Ellul

GPs are being urged to adopt online sign language translation software to improve communication for deaf and non-English speaking patients.

The internet-based translation program - developed by the charity Signhealth - converts English to British Sign Language (BSL) as well as 12 foreign spoken languages, and is free for all GP surgeries.

It aims to aid communication with people who have difficulty in understanding spoken English, whether they are Deaf and use BSL, or are non-English speaking ethnic minorities.

The charity is writing to GP practices to explain the demand for them to use the SignTranslate program, after collecting information from 60 deaf people about their surgeries.

Dr Joe McGilligan, chair of ESyDoc LLP consortium for East Surrey, said: 'We've now had SignTranslate installed in every Practice in East Surrey. It's so much better to be able to see a patient straightaway rather than having to wait until you can get an interpreter.'

Steve Powell, chief executive of SignHealth said: 'Communication problems cause misunderstandings, wrong diagnoses and can leave patients unsure of how to use medication.'

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