Aberdeenshire MSP supports sign language training for health workers

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin.
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin.

A north east MSP has asked the Scottish Government to ensure that health workers providing end of life care are offered training in British Sign Language (BSL).

Gillian Martin, member for Aberdeenshire East, made the request afer being contacted by constituent Rosemary Mitchell, who is campaigning to improve the access to BSL training for NHS staff providing palliative care to deaf people.

Rosemary has set up a Facebook campaign page and is taking part in Run Garioch in March to raise money to help Marie Curie staff in Moray, who helped care for her mother, get BSL training.

She said: “Currently, there are still huge issues surrounding communication for deaf people in health settings so it is clear that the existing provision isn’t good enough and needs to be improved.”

“My wonderful mum recently passed away after bravely fighting cancer. She received excellent care at home from Marie Curie staff who were a great support to us as a family at such a difficult time.

“As my mum was deafblind the nurses relied on us to communicate fully with her. They also made a great effort to communicate with my dad, who is deaf. The team expressed a keen interest in learning British Sign Language (BSL) but there are currently no courses available to meet their requirements.”

Mental health minister Maureen Watt told Ms Martin that the Scottish Government has asked NHS Health Scotland to “develop plans to support improvements in the use of BSL” in the NHS, including in palliative care.

Ms Martin said: “I welcome the minister’s response that NHS Health Scotland have been asked by the Scottish Government to develop plans to support improvements and share best practice in the use of BSL in NHS settings throughout Scotland, including palliative care settings.”