Welwyn Garden City deaf couple feel like 'non-persons' by hospital in interpreter row

PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 November 2012 | UPDATED: 09:00 19 November 2012

Paul and Samantha Voisin

Paul and Samantha Voisin

Archant

A PROFOUNDLY deaf couple say they have been left feeling like "non persons" in a row over hospital translators.

Paul and Samantha Voisin say they are frightened of going to the accident & emergency departments at the QE2 and Lister hospitals because they cannot be understood.

The pair, who use sign language to communicate, say there have been five cases since May 2011 when an interpreter was not available.

But the trust which runs the hospitals has hit back at claims it has not been co-operative - saying more than £8,000 has been spent on translators for the family in just over two years.

Mrs Voisin, 38, said she has used the hospital repeatedly since the birth of their son in 2008, and complained: “We don’t want to suffer anymore we have had enough.

“This has been an ongoing problem but I didn’t know how to complain so I just accepted it.”

Family friend Anastasia Insley, who helps translate, said: “Psychologically the whole family has been damaged by it.”

The couple say they were left fuming after their six-year-old daughter was asked to translate for them on one occasion in May last year.

Mrs Voison said: “They tried to use my daughter and she shouldn’t have to take that responsibility.”

Mr Voison, 42, said: “We feel as if we are non persons, really, because we have a disability.”

In response to the claims, Philippa Davies, deputy director of nursing at the East and North Hertfordshire Trust, said health bosses had never refused to provide a translator.

She said: “During 2010/11, we organised translators for the Voisins on 25 separate occasions and 22 times during 2011/12.

“Of course it is always easier to book translators for appointments made in advance; the bigger challenge, however, is when someone arrives in an emergency.

“Yet we have managed to do this for the Voisons on one occasion this year when they attended A&E.

“So since April 2010, we have booked translators for the family on a total of 60 separate occasions, the cost of which - at some £8,200 - has been borne by the Trust.”

The trust boss continued: “To suggest that the Trust is simply refusing to book translators for the Voisins is just not borne out by the facts. We will, of course, to continue to support them in future - as we do all our patients needing such additional help.”

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