The Gibraltar Health Authority’s 111 telephone line, which is used for both the COVID-19 response and the Mental Health Crisis Pathway, has now been enhanced to enable people who cannot communicate verbally to communicate with this service via a WhatsApp message.
This enhanced service will allow people who cannot talk by phone to contact the 111 service if they are in need of medical assistance.
The GHA 111, which was set up during the pandemic to provide clinical advice on COVID-19, was extended in June this year as the contact number for the Mental Health Crisis Pathway. The Primary Care Centre already uses an SMS service that allows service users who are deaf or hard of hearing to make appointments by text.
In order to be eligible for this service, a person must have a profound hearing loss in one ear and at least a severe hearing loss in the other. The person must also have significant difficulty in communicating via telephone. Details of eligible individuals previously using the Primary Care Centre’s SMS appointment service have already been shared with the 111 response team. The GHA has written to the individuals who are registered with them advising them on how to access this service.
The Minister for Equality and Health, The Hon Minister Samantha Sacramento, MP, said: “Extending the 111 Advice Line to people who cannot verbally contact this service by telephone is essential in order to offer an inclusive service. This important improvement to the service not only ensures peace of mind for people who were otherwise dependent on help from others, it also affords them an essence of dignity and the independence that they deserve.
“This is a good example of a reasonable adjustment to a service that can be offered in a simple yet alternative way. I would like to commend my team at the Ministry for Equality who have led on this and to Dr Flores and the team at 111 and the GHA’s Audiology Department as they have seamlessly worked together on this to make it happen. I hope this serves as an example and inspires other service providers, both in the public and private sectors, to develop their services in order to make these more inclusive.”