Letter: Don't ring your GP

Graham Holden
Wednesday 03 March 1999 00:02 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Sir: Those with impaired hearing are increasingly excluded from the machinery of a society rushing into telephone contact for everything. This will become intolerable if matters of health have to be communicated to a stranger who knows nothing of one's medical history, perhaps speaking in dialect and located hundreds of miles away in some gigantic Babel.

Strange voices are difficult for the hearing-impaired to handle and a common feature of centralised call-handling is people with poor elocution and often unfamiliar accents who think the mark of competence is how rapidly they can spew out a torrent of words. Mention that you are deaf and they shout at you or lose patience.

As hospitals are already desperately short of nurses, where are the qualified staff to be found to extend NHS Direct? It is easy to see how staff shortage could lead to menu-switching: "If you have been sick press 1. If you have pain in your right buttock press 2." The mind boggles.

GRAHAM HOLDEN

Budleigh Salterton, Devon

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