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NHS Fife has appointed its first dedicated British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter to help improve the experience for Deaf BSL users attending hospitals in Fife.

Mandy McCreadie is a qualified BSL interpreter and took up her role within NHS Fife’s Patient Experience Team in January. Mandy has been signing for more than 20 years and has worked as an interpreter for many years.

In her role, Mandy will be working with Deaf BSL users and staff across all healthcare services, supporting conversations between patients and clinicians and helping ensure that the views of patients are understood. Mandy will also be signing written communications to patients in advance of clinical procedures to ensure that any information is delivered clearly in the patient's preferred language.

Although based at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Mandy will be working with Deaf BSL users in hospitals, community and GP practices and even home visits across Fife.

In addition to working with patients, Mandy is also available for current and prospective healthcare staff who use BSL, including at staff meetings, training and for job interviews.

On her appointment, Mandy said: “I’m really excited to have taken up this new role within NHS Fife.

“Although I have been in the role for a short period of time, it has already been really rewarding to have been able to work with and get to know Deaf BSL users coming into hospital.

“My hope is that we can develop the service further over the coming months as we try and make the experience of BSL users attending hospital that little bit easier.”

Mandy’s appointment is part of an initial 6-month pilot, with the hope to extend the project further if it proves successful.

BSL interpreters are already widely used in the NHS in Scotland. Most often interpreters are contracted in to provide services as required, which can be costly and time consuming. The appointment of NHS Fife’s first dedicated BSL interpreter means that access for BSL users can be much more flexible and responsive to their needs, while also delivers a cost saving at a time when NHS resources are stretched.

Director of Nursing, Janette Keenan, said of the new appointment: “We are delighted to welcome Mandy as our first dedicated BSL interpreter.

“Although the use of BSL interpreters in the NHS is not new, having a dedicated member of staff on-site will allow us to be much more responsive to the needs of Deaf BSL-using patients.

“I’m convinced that Mandy’s appointment will be really beneficial to BSL users accessing our services, and will not only help ensure that the communication between healthcare staff and patients is as smooth as possible, but that the wants and needs of patients are taken on board and understood.”