VAT and import duty exemption

I’ve known for a long time that if you’re buying equipment in the UK, that is for your sole use and needed due to a disability, you don’t have to pay VAT. Some suppliers of deafness-related equipment have a simple declaration readily available so VAT is deducted before you pay anything. (eg Connevans’ VAT information, Action On Hearing Loss shop information.)

I’ve just learned* there’s a similar set-up if you’re buying equipment overseas. Usually there’s duty to pay either via the carrier, or at customs if you’re bringing something in yourself. Someone in our email group has just passed on the news that you can make a similar declaration and won’t have to pay duty.

UPDATE: 23/9/2015

To qualify for exemption, HMRC states equipment must be “specially designed to give educational, employment or social help to people with physical or mental disabilities” (see HMRC ref below.) Their reply to my equiry states, “unfortunately, the VAT relief only covers equipment that is designed solely for the use by disabled people” which excludes most if not all electronic stethoscopes, “and also is to be used for your own private and domestic use – so this wouldn’t cover equipment that you use for work.” Which definitely excludes all stethoscopes as well as much other equipment.  If in doubt about a specific situation, I suggest checking with HMRC.

Continue reading “VAT and import duty exemption”

Deaf motorbike paramedic heads for the skies

Richard Webb-Stevens is a motorcycle paramedic. Deaf since childhood, he’s persevered through knock-backs and come up with solutions to barriers. He actively promotes deaf awareness and access to emergency services and health care and is an advocate for access to healthcare for deaf/HoH people.

Richard began work with the London Ambulance Service (LAS) over sixteen years ago and has been a motorcycle paramedic for eight. He will shortly be starting a secondment with London’s Air Ambulance as a Flight Paramedic which is his career ambition. I first heard about Richard on the BBC See Hear programme featuring d/Deaf and HoH health professionals in January 2015. Continue reading “Deaf motorbike paramedic heads for the skies”

“My deafness will help make me a better doctor.”

Excellent article in the Huffington Post by Eugene Smith about Justine Durno, a medical student at Barts and the London, who is also deaf. It covers a lot of ground touching on issues deaf people face trying to access health care, issues facing deaf children and in education and some of the added value that being deaf will bring to her patients and others. If you saw her on See Hear in January, you’ll already know Justine is a very positive young lady. A real asset to the medical profession.

Crowdsourcing a clear face mask

At last there’s an update on the FaceView Mask that Jeanne Hahne has been trying to develop for so long. She came up with the idea in 1979, while working in a burn unit, because she was unable to connect with her trauma patients through her protective mask. Communication is enhanced when patients can see more of our faces, can see us smile or share their sadness. And of course lipreading helps deaf patients and deaf healthcare staff.

Jeanne will need FDA approval and has turned to crowd sourcing to fund the final development and testing stages, aiming to have a surgical version ready in May 2015.

Read more here .

Meanwhile, don’t forget the safe DIY option I wrote about here.

Clear face masks – DIY solution

For as long as I’ve been around deaf health professionals, clear face masks have been stuck “in development” (see below.) In the meantime, how about adapting equipment already readily available? In a message to the NOISE mailing list in 2005, Ian Thomson, Vascular Surgeon and Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago, wrote:

“We have been using clear masks which are designed for cleaning instruments in a theatre environment. With the addition of a standard surgical mask taped below the clear mask we have passed tests for contamination by theatre control. We have used this design for all nurses that scrub with me for the last two years and some hundreds of cases in two different hospitals with no change in wound infection rates.”

Continue reading “Clear face masks – DIY solution”

What’s in a name?

I’ve been wondering about our name. As well as not being the snappiest of names, “UK Health Professionals with Hearing Loss” isn’t how everyone would like to be described. So, what other suggestions do you have?

Lisa and I anguished over the name when we first set the group up. Both of us were fairly recently deaf so didn’t know the nuances and tensions there have been in the d/Deaf/HoH community/ies. Continue reading “What’s in a name?”

Launching Cherry (or maybe her Blog)

Three years ago, Cherry Cullen made the decision to have a cochlear implant. Since then, she’s kept the UKHPHL email group informed and entertained with stories of her progress through assessment, surgery and rehabilitation. (Makes her sound like a criminal!) Continue reading “Launching Cherry (or maybe her Blog)”

Try before you buy

There’s no “one size fits all” solution, especially with stethoscopes. But that also goes for other equipment such as assisted listening devices that can be even more expensive. So do your best to agree a trial period with the supplier. This means you can get a full refund if you return the equipment in time,though delivery costs may not be included. Continue reading “Try before you buy”

Access to Work

“As well as giving advice and information to disabled people and employers, Access to Work pays a grant … towards any extra employment costs that result from a disability.”

We can get some help towards costs of special equipment, which can include electronic stethoscopes and aids to help us in meetings and with telephones and pagers, and support workers such as note-takers, lip-speakers and interpreters to sign, for example.

Access to Work may fund the full cost of equipment if you apply while out of work, are about to begin  a new job or if you apply within 6 weeks of starting a new job or are self-employed. In other situations, they only fund a proportion.

They will not fund in retrospect. You must apply and have an assessment before buying equipment or services.

Live captions (speech-to-text) for patients too?

I posted before about using live speech-to-text reporting (aka “live captioning”) in meetings, theatre and indeed anywhere we d/Deaf and hard of hearing health professionals are working. Well, how about using it to help our deaf and hard of hearing patients?

Helen Cherry, a hearing aid wearer and NHS professional herself, uses remote captioning for work meetings. Then her own experience as a patient gave Cherry the idea of using it the other way round. How about our deaf and hard of hearing patients having access to remote captioning so they can “hear” their own healthcare staff? Continue reading “Live captions (speech-to-text) for patients too?”