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Local interpreting and translation services reviewed by Deaf Forum

Room with a sign languague interpreter and forum membersOur thanks to Public Reference Group member, Tony Pilkington and Chair of the Lewisham Deaf Community Association, John Delve, for organising a session with the Lewisham Deaf Forum on Saturday 2 March at Kings Church Catford.

We talked to the group about our Review of Primary Care Interpreting and Translation Services in Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth, as it was important to hear the first-hand experience of people who have used the service to access British Sign Language interpreters. After an introduction to the services and to the review process (which covers interpreting for GPs, opticians and dentists), we focused on specific elements such as the levels of awareness about the services and the processes for booking an interpreter. Group members shared their experiences with us and provided suggestions for improvement.

We also took the opportunity to gather their views on the possible use of video interpreting and received useful feedback. We then reminded the group about the options for booking GP appointments online and other GP online services.

The discussion was useful and linked well to a previous visit to the forum by Healthwatch Lewisham. Tony Pilkington said "Deaf people came to the Forum event organised by the Lewisham Deaf Community Association to give their views and experiences of the BSL interpreting service as they use GP and other primary health care services. Both positive and negative examples were shared in the Forum and the barriers faced by Deaf BSL signers in accessing the NHS. The opportunity to contribute to the interpreting service review was valued by all those attending and it is hoped that the issues raised lead to real improvements".

We are currently writing a report that will outline the findings of our engagement and will assist in making recommendations about how the service will look in the future. This report will be made available in the coming months. For further information please email


The Deaf Forum

The Deaf Forum meets every three months, usually on a Saturday between 11am and 1pm at King's Church, Catford Hill or at the Council's Civic Suite. If you would like more information from the Lewisham Deaf Community Association, contact John Delve and Tony Pilkington at: