Health Trust Apologises After Daughter Had To Tell Deaf Father He Was Terminally Ill

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has apologised and paid £7,000, without admission of liability, to the family of a profoundly deaf County Antrim man, now deceased, after his daughter had to tell him his illness was terminal.

Mr Thomas Carson's daughter, Jillian Shanks, said: "My father, Thomas Carson, was taken ill quite suddenly and, because the hospital did not provide a sign language interpreter, I had to communicate the news to him that his condition was terminal and he was going to die.

"That was very distressing - for him, for myself and for my mother, who is also deaf and was with him throughout."
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Both the late Mr Carson and his wife Mary are profoundly deaf and have always used British Sign Language as their first language. It is through that language that their daughter Jillian communicates with them. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland supported Jillian and her mother to bring a case under the Disability Discrimination Act over the Trust's failure to provide interpretation services.

In settling the case the Trust has apologised for the upset and distress the family experienced and for the fact that, by not providing an interpreter to Mr Carson, it had not acted in accordance with its 'Policy on Access on Interpreting and Written Translation Services'.

Anne McKernan, Director of Legal Services, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said: "The Trust's failure to implement the policies they already had in place meant that an additional degree of unnecessary distress and hurt was caused to this family. It could and should have been avoided."


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