No money, BSL Health Access is now closed.

No money, BSL Health Access is now closed.

In March 2020, as lockdown came into effect and services across the country switched to phone consultations. Deaf people needed a solution fast to address this new barrier to healthcare in the UK. SignHealth, the Deaf health charity, launched a free on-demand 24/7 remote interpreting service called BSL Health Access, in partnership with InterpreterNow. This enabled Deaf people to access medical services over the phone, free of charge.

When BSL Health Access launched, SignHealth was optimistic that NHS England or another government body would pay for the service in order to make phone consultations accessible to Deaf people. In the meantime, SignHealth invested £800,000 from their own reserves to kickstart the service and ensure that Deaf people were not left waiting. In late 2020, the NHS agreed to cover the running costs from December to the end of March 2021 to ensure the service continued through the winter while the NHS reviewed British Sign Language (BSL) provision more broadly.

So far over 25,000 conversations have taken place through this service. After investing £800,000 from their reserves, SignHealth is no longer able to cover the costs of the service. The NHS has not committed any further funding for April 1st onwards, effectively closing the service of BSL Health Access.

For the press release, please visit:

Customer Service Team

If you are still not clear with what is happening or you would like to talk to someone about the closure, please contact our Customer Service Team and one of our representatives will help.

This is available from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Contact the Customer Service in BSL:

Contact the Customer Service (BSL)

Alternative Services

BSL Health Access is now closed however, there are some other services that you can use instead.

NHS111: This is available 24/7 – NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.

If you’re Deaf and want to use the phone service, you can use the NHS 111 British Sign Language service available in your country:

You can also call 18001 111 on a textphone.

contactSCOTLAND-BSL: If you are based in Scotland, then you can use ContactScotlandBSL to make VRS calls to health professionals.

Health Social Care Northern Ireland: If you are based in Northern Ireland, then you can use HSCNI to make VRS calls to health professionals or to use VRI for in-person appointments.

Other: There are several NHS Trusts and NHS CCGs that have signed up to VRS services, provided by various VRS providers across the UK, for more information please visit UKCOD Video Relay Directory:

How can you support?

There are two ways to support the campaign for BSL Health Access to be reopened again:

1) Sign Petition: A petition has been set up asking the NHS to fund BSL Health Access. Please click on the button below to add your signature.


Sign Petition

2) Write a letter to your MP: You can write a letter to your local MP to ask for their support to save BSL Health Access. Please click on the button below for a letter template.


Letter Template

3) Know your rights: Accessible Information Standard

The standard is a legal obligation that ensures:

  1. Deaf people have the same level of access to information about their health as hearing people do
  2. Deaf people receive the communication support they want (for example an interpreter or speech-to-text reporter)
  3. Information is provided in an accessible format. That may mean test results sent by SMS or emails in plain English.