“This is an eye clinic; I’m Blind; tell me you’re not pointing!”.Simon Mahoney, Winging It Blind
Have you ever missed a hospital appointment because you couldn’t read the letter, or maybe you’ve had to ask a friend or relative to read a letter from your consultant, even though you’d rather keep that information private? Or did you miss your appointment slot because you couldn’t see your name flash up on the screen in the waiting room?
What is the NHS Accessible Information Standard
In 2016, the NHS Accessible Information Standard was introduced to address these issues. Unfortunately, according to research by the RNIB 2021, “81 per cent of patients reported having an appointment where their communication needs were unmet”, and “77 per cent of people with accessible information needs reported rarely or never receiving information in alternative formats.” The NHS Information standard requires that NHS Hospitals, GPs, and Adult Social Care providers must do the following: –
- Identify the communication needs of the people using their services
- Consistently record those needs, specifying the need rather than the reason. I.e. Requires Large Print, lip reader, needs collecting from the waiting room.
- Have a consistent flagging system that alerts anyone involved in your care about your communication needs.
- Sharing (with your consent) your communication needs where appropriate. For example, a GP making a referral to a consultant must include your communication needs.
- Make sure they meet those needs. The standard allows you to specify the following: –
- How you would like to be contacted – Telephone, Email, Text etc.
- What format you would like the information in – Large Print, Braille, Audio, electronic format, Easy Read, BSL Video.
- What support do you need during your appointment – Sign Language Interpreter, Guide Communicator.
- Any additional support you need to communicate, such as hearing aids or to be able to lip read.
How to make your communication needs known.
Tell the person providing your care what your communication needs are and ask that they record this information in compliance with the NHS Accessible Information Standard.
If your communication needs are not met.
- Remind them that they have a legal duty to provide accessible information under the Accessible Information Standard
- Make an informal complaint via PALs (Patient Advice and Liaison Service)
- Airedale NHS Trust contact 01535 294019 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust contact 01274 364810, Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm or email email@example.com
- Leeds Teaching Hospitals HHS Trust contact 0113 2066261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact Healthwatch Bradford District on 01535 665258 or email email@example.com or Healthwatch North Yorkshire on 01423 788128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.