Yesterday, I attended an event that was organised by Staffordshire Health Watch the event was held in the auditorium of Newcastle College.
When I arrived at the college I duly signed the attendance sheet and my colleagues and I were directed to the first floor where an impressive display of stalls were on hand to kindly present advice and literature regarding numerous health issues to the general public. I found all the staff who maned these stalls to be polite, knowledgeable and extremely professional in their approach to the general public.
Health and Social Care Debate
After browsing the numerous stalls and chatting to members of the public I then entered the auditorium in anticipation, to take part in the above A&Q session, where members of the public and caring professionals would be able to question a ‘select’ panel [similar to BBC Question Time but on a smaller scale] regarding health issues that were close to their heart.
I entered the auditorium and I quickly scanned the room so that I could ascertain the best place to sit which would allow me take part in the Q&A debate. [As I am a hearing aid user, this is a trait that I have adopted over a number years. Scan the area, make a note of the emergency exits and more importantly, sit where one can see the faces of the speakers].
Hmm, I was impressed by the layout of the auditorium. One could sit in the seating area, view the podium where the Chairman of Q&A session presided, to his right there was a table which four members of the panel were seated. To the left of the podium, I saw two disabled, wheelchair users, seated by the side of the staircase. Hmm, I thought, that the wheelchairs users would struggle to view the panel and the members of the public.
Before the debate commenced I approached the Chairman and informed him that I wear a hearing aid and I requested an inductive loop necklace [for want of better description]. A member of staff was summoned and my request was repeated. After waiting a few moments I sat down in the audience, safe in the knowledge that my request was being adhered to.
Introductions Commence . . .
I assume the Chairman introduced the panel members! I watched the movements of his lips, but I was sat too far away to actually read his lips.
I was horrified the event had commenced and I was still awaiting for the inductive loop to be activated and I was still minus the loop necklace.
I left my seat and proceeded to the podium.
I stood next to the podium so that I could hear the speech of the Chairman.
What happens next?
The Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council
Councillor Sandra Hambleton was introduced to the event and Councillor Hambleton approached the podium and she opened the event with a wonderful and heartwarming speech. [I am standing against the podium].
The Debate is Open for questions
To my horror, I then realise that the debate had commenced and I am still standing against the podium awaiting the delivery of my disabled equipment.
I waited . . .
Waited . . .
And waited . . .
Where is the inductive necklace that I requested?
I shook my head in disbelief, made my way to the audience and reluctantly, I sat down in my seat. The debate had commenced and I was unable to hear the panel, nor was I able to hear the questions that the audience were directing to the panel.
Help from Colleagues
I was becoming agitated, confused and annoyed that the debate was taking place and that I was unable to participate in the same. I relied upon my colleagues who kindly tried to keep me abreast of what was being discussed.
A member of staff approached me and asked me if I had switched my hearing aid to the ‘T’ position. I kindly explained to the member of staff that I had so, and that the inductive loop was still malfunctioning. I was wearing an analogue hearing aid at the time. I also carried my spare, digital hearing aid and I had inserted the same into my right ear. The digital hearing aid was unable to connect with the auditoriums inductive loop system.
The photo above depicts [left] my digital hearing aid, which, is subject to malfunctions but that’s another blog post for the future. To the right of the photo is my trusty, old analogue hearing aid. Both hearing aids are provided free-of-charge by the NHS, for which I am eternally grateful.
Some people carry spare pens, keys or other idiosyncrasies, I carry a spare hearing aid! When one is disabled, one must be prepared for all eventualities.
I am attending a Q&A debate and I am unable to participate in the event.
CCG/NHS to charge a fee for the issue of Hearing Aids
My colleagues are aware that I wished to speak on the subject of the above. As I firmly believe that the CCG/NHS will be penalising, some of the most vulnerable people in our society, people who are disabled through no fault of their own. People, who are misjudged, suffer from isolation and mental health issues due to their ‘invisible’ disability.
One of my colleagues informed me to raise my hand as the subject of the CCG/NHS and their ill-founded policy to charge a fee for the issue of hearing aids was ‘live’.
I duly raised my hand and indicated that I wished to speak.
What happens next?
The shambles continues . . .
To be continued . . .