Citizens with impaired hearing now have access to a video call service platform at the Contact Center of the National Health Service – SNS24. This line started operating on April 21, and has six Portuguese Sign Language interpreters who will provide assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure the clarification of these people.
The SNS24 website has a platform that allows the contact, through video call, between the deaf citizen and the Portuguese Sign Language interpreter. They will then mediate with the nurse of the SNS Contact Center, through a voice answering platform.
It should be emphasized that the Triage, Monitoring and Routing Service follows the same parameters for all citizens, differing only in the form of access, in order to better respond to the needs of each person.
In addition to guaranteeing the access of these citizens to this line, this functionality can also be used to ensure communication between health professionals and the deaf patient during hospitalization or interactions at the health center.
Currently, a conversation channel is available on the SNS24 website, which works through an online chat box. The video call will thus be a new resource available to deaf people.
The provision of this service results from a partnership between the Shared Services of the Ministry of Health, EPE, the National Institute for Rehabilitation, IP and the Portuguese Federation of Deaf Associations.
The Government has been developing work on the inclusion of deaf people, such as the 112 emergency line, which was accessible to these citizens in the previous legislature.
The Secretary of State for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities, Ana Sofia Antunes, stresses that this is a «very important initiative for these people, who will now be able to fully access this service. The Government remains committed to ensuring that deaf citizens have access to other public services ».
The Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales, also points out that «the availability of this new tool reinforces that which is the spirit of the NHS itself: providing a quality and fair service, accessible to all citizens, which leaves no one to back ».