An Open Letter to the New NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens by SignHealth’s Chief Executive, Steve Powell.

The Deaf Health Charity SignHealth has written an open letter to the new Chief Executive of NHS England, welcoming his promise to tackle preventable diseases, and asks him to make Deaf people a priority.

On the day of his appointment, Simon Stevens said he would like the health service to “get a better grip on prevention”.

The Sick Of It report, which was published by SignHealth in March, showed that Deaf people are much more likely than hearing people to have undiagnosed heart and pre-diabetic conditions. It is also more likely that when a patient does have the conditions diagnosed, their treatment becomes no longer effective.

Steve Powell, Chief Executive of SignHealth, has asked Simon Stevens to act on the Prescriptions For Change in the report. They are simple and cost-effective chains which will help to improve the health of Deaf people, and save the NHS £30 million a year on late and poor treatment of preventable diseases.

The open letter:

SignHealth's open letter.

SignHealth’s open letter.

This letter is also available in BSL.

Note from The Tree House: If one needs to make a complaint regarding NHS and/or government services, please use this link as a potential alternative guide.


Sick Of It by Samantha.


During SignHealth’s recent “Sick Of It” event which many of us followed online be it via Twitter and/or Facebook, upon reading examples were being given that patients had to put pen to paper, Sara seized the day and tweeted them her article “Pen and paper“. Much to her surprise, she was tweeted back asking her if “The Tree House” would be interested in publishing them? Of course we were! It will always be our honour to assist in giving those a voice to be “heard”, on an equal and united basis – regardless.

The "Sick Of It" campaign by SignHealth.

The “Sick Of It” campaign by SignHealth.

My name is Samantha and I’m a Communications Researcher at SignHealth. For the last five years, our team have been researching Deaf people’s health with the University of Bristol, to get hard evidence about the barriers Deaf people face. We named our campaign ‘Sick Of It’ and on March 25th we held a conference to launch our findings. Myself, my colleague Freya, (our Communications Assistant) and the rest of the team have been working together to bring the report to life.

My work started with a trip across the country, filming individuals from the Deaf community in Glasgow, Manchester, Yorkshire and London. I met with each person, working with a researcher from the University of Bristol to interview each one and to get an understanding of their healthcare experiences as a Deaf person. Their stories were shocking. We showed some of the case studies at the conference to add a human touch; we wanted to make an impact on hearing health professionals to show that Deaf people’s problems are serious and real.

On the day of the conference Freya had a huge presence in spreading the word about Sick Of It via Facebook and Twitter.  She was behind the non-stop live commentary that was given all day long, to ensure everyone outside the conference, especially Deaf people, were being kept up to date.

The online event and the whole Sick Of It campaign is proving to be a success. We have received numerous emails from health professionals across the country wanting to make changes for the better for their Deaf patients!  That’s what we want to hear!

As I’m Deaf and a BSL user, I have had my fair share of experiencing ignorance and inequalities in the health service. My opinion about the Sick Of It campaign is that it’s wholly important and about time, too!  Deaf people have been neglected, received poor treatment and have missed diagnoses – it’s been going on far too long.  Enough is enough!

Enough is enough! Sick of it.

Enough is enough! Sick of it.

Our campaign strives to raise awareness amongst health professionals that provide services for Deaf people.  At the moment, it is not good enough and Deaf people are not being treated equally, especially because of poor communication.  We are fighting for equal rights for Deaf people and we want to see the day where Deaf people are able to communicate with health professionals without barriers; services and health information being made available in BSL for Deaf people whose first language is BSL; their general health being the same with that of hearing people; reducing the chance of missed diagnoses, therefore being able to stay as healthy as possible.  We also want Deaf people to know their rights and to encourage them to take responsibility for their own health.

As part of our Sick Of It campaign, we have introduced a section called ‘Prescriptions for Change’, demanding that all the issues raised from our research are addressed and solved. Changes have to happen; they are simple and inexpensive!  Actually, by making our recommended changes, the NHS will save £30 million a year!  To check what our recommendations for Prescriptions for Change are, go to We have English and BSL versions of the Sick Of It report on our website because we aim to cater for everyone!

Our work is not yet done. There’s still lots to do; the health inequalities Deaf people experience everyday aren’t going to end overnight, and we continue to campaign for long term changes, better Deaf awareness and for all health professionals to think twice, putting themselves in Deaf people’s shoes!

This is just the start!

By Samantha.

Sam & the girls.

Sam & the girls.

Please feel free to find SignHealth on Twitter, Facebook and their website.

The Tree House would also like to wish SignHealth, Samantha and her team, all the best with their Sick Of It campaign. We admire all the hard work they have put into this and will continue to follow with great interest.