Holby City

Hello…..hellooooooo *echoes bounced off the empty auditorium*. I won’t be surprised if no-one here to read this. I haven’t flexed my writing skills for a long time which, since I last wrote, have been mainly confined to writing rapid-fire emails in my line of work.

I absolutely agree with the sentiments and the necessity for various orgs and bodies to write in to express their concerns about the latest portrayal of a child being used as an involuntary sign language interpreter in a recent Holby City’s episode surrounding a deaf father undergoing a heart op. It is good to educate the people who made it.

While we are expressing our dismay and horror about how negative this portrayal have turned out to be and bite our nails whether this is laying down precedence and further malpractices, I can see how we can turn this into a useful platform to bolster the case for better and accessible services within the public health services.

After watching a See Hear segment which covered this episode behind the scene, following Memnos Costi and his talented daughter, Kachina. It doesn’t strike to me that the Holby City team have gone about and blithely nailed down this story as a normal everyday theme. I believe they are actually deliberately making a snapshot of what does goes on within our wards which have, unwittingly, provoked a strong debate about it. Of course, this recent episode goes against the grain to our aspirations of what make a good health service. Holby City isn’t a mainly aspirational program as it tackles different issues each week and I am sure we are not the first or last people to complain about their portrayal of different issues.

This shouldn’t be the end. This is gold dust for our campaign for better access to health services as it is all laid out before our own eyes of what can go wrong by not providing an accessible health service. We should lobby the Holby City’s writers to make a follow up story. We should lobby health care professionals showing an example of bad practice. We should lobby to raise awareness of the importance for front line NHS staff to quickly provide the right and appropriate communication support as too often they just don’t do it. We should lobby the commissioners and NHS procurement teams to highlight the dangers of a weak and inefficient supply chain which undermine provision of appropriate qualified sign language interpreters through cost-saving. We can think plenty of scenarios to follow up this episode featuring Memnos and his daughter. Don’t let this golden geese run away from us. Any publicity is good.

Derby City Council’s decision on Communication Unlimited provision

[originated from Derby City Council website via Derby Deaf newsgroups – however I could not find the source]

Organisation & Current Funding Value

Communication Unlimited


Service Description

Provides subsidised British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation and deaf/blind communication support to assist individuals to access community facilities

Consultation Metrics

General Public

  • Number who had heard of organisation: 27
  • Number who had used the organisation: 10
  • Number who felt the organisation had some impact or a big impact on to resident’s wellbeing: 59
  • Number who felt the organisation should continue to receive funding: 50
  • Service Users ( 33 survey responses + 2 Focus Meetings)
  • The main differences that the organisation makes to the individual or their organisation are the ability to communicate and access to services (23 comments).
  • Service users felt that cessation of the service would impact on their daily lives.
  • In particular, individuals spoke about how much difficult it would become to access mainstream services (21 comments).
  • Schools in particular also commented on the value of the organisation in helping them communicate to Deaf parents.

Consultation Outcomes


The general public had very low awareness, and usage, of the organisation. There was a low level of feeling that the organisation has some impact or a big impact on resident’s wellbeing and that it should continue to receive funding. The survey responses by service users were re-enforced by two focus groups.

For service users the organisation is felt to make a difference through its interpreting service by giving customers the ability to communicate and access to a wide range of services.


Extend the existing agreement with Communication Unlimited for 12 months; 6 months at the current funding level, 6 months at 50% current funding level. During this period it is recommended that a new business model that obtains funding from organisations accessed by users is developed.

Provide funding to Communication Unlimited to undertake the awareness raising and access to information and advice activities identified as a service gap.

Ensure that the plan for the BSL service seeks to integrate with the action plan to improve services for deaf and hard of hearing/acquired deafness users currently being developed by the Disabled Peoples Forum working group. (Project group to include representatives from Deaf Forum, British Deaf Association, CamTAD).

Ensure that services to BSL users also link to developments in the Council’s Customer Management Department to improve access for people who are deaf/hard of hearing.


No impact for the first 6 months. After that, funding will be halved and all services subject to equalities legislation will have to begin to provide suitable access for people from the deaf community. If this does not
occur, users may have to be charged for services.


Tapered funding supports the organisation to move to a new model of funding over a period of time allowing services to be maintained for customers whilst this transition takes place.
In addition, the awareness raising and access to information and advice activities identified as a service gap should help to encourage organisations that interact with deaf people to implement or increase their access to a BSL service.

PIP Eligibility – Deaf Case Study

Case study 9
Trevor is 25 and lives in sheltered accommodation provided by the local council,
sharing a house with three other people one of whom, like him, is also profoundly
deaf. He likes meeting up with friends and often goes to see movies with subtitles.
His preferred method of communication is British Sign Language and many of the
people he sees regularly have learnt a few essential elements of sign language, to
help with communication. He keeps in touch with his friends by text and his phone
vibrates and flashes to alert him when he receives messages. The doorbell in his
house also has a light that goes on when someone rings it. He is able to cook for
himself, do his own shopping and manages to wash and dress without support.
Likely descriptor choices

Total points
Daily living activities = 8 (standard rate Daily Living component)
Mobility activities = 0 (no Mobility component entitlement)
Trevor’s impairment impacts on his ability to communicate and he requires a British
Sign Language interpreter. He is able to carry out all other everyday activities

Editor note: I have a lot to say about this. First of all, it says Trevor requires a British Sign Language interpreter. The assessment doesn’t even begin to ascertain how much Trevor requires this and how this requirement can be met. Assessment is so infuriatingly half-assed. 

PIP – Eligibility criteria

Pardon me for not blogging after such a long time. Also, pardon me for launching straight into a raging subject that have worked up Twitter into a moral outrage and people with disabilities up in arms. Pardon me for quickly putting together this post.

In the light of the current Welfare Reform, currently being brutally pushed through the House of Lords without so much scrutiny and analysis, one of the most contentious aspects of it is to replace Disability Living Allowance with PIP (Personal Independence Payment) for spurious reasons. (I hope I can have the opportunity to explain why later).

Last night, DWP have published the proposed thresholds points to guide the re-assessment part of the new PIP. This can be found here.

Below is taken from Benefits and Work website of how each claimant will be scored.

Continue reading

Gold-plated service

At the behest of Alison Byran of G.O.D.

Apologies for the lengthy break away from blogging. Things have been mad at work, plus an impending new addition to our new family, plus sustained efforts throughout Autumn to renovate the 2nd half of our house in readiness for the new addition. Oh well, life happened!

I started my Xmas holidays early – on 16th Dec – hee hee, Xmas glee! Whilst out Xmas shopping, I had an impromtu shear – haircut – so, as per usual, my hearing aid are taken off. Typically, I am always asked to take them off by the barber and, as per usual, the barber still try to strike up a conversation as if I am a hearing person. Continue reading

Eternal Sunshine of the Cochlear Mind

Gazza, one of the Australian deaf bloggers who inhabits at The Rebuttal, posted a strong critique made by Michael Uniake, which examined the existing medical viewpoint of cochlear implants and highlighting their intransigence leads to an unhealthy legacy on the well-being of the deaf people, at large. One eminent doctor, Dr Bruce Shepherd, made a public statement that cochlear implants is the ONLY route to happiness and becoming a productive member of the society. I feel that insensitive statement will prove extremely unhelpful on the back of the hard work of Deaf professionals and campaigners Continue reading

Life-saving skills – in BSL

This is great. Vital life-saving skills made accessible in British Sign Language. They have been created by British Red Cross and it is presented by Fifi Garfield. Kudos to British Red Cross for taking this initiative at their own expense and despite the fact that they are volunteer-led organistation. It is nice to see someone putting lives above the money. Public inter-governmental services should hang their heads in shame.

See more here.