Health & Well-being3rd July 2014

Accessible Health Services in Wales

Raising awareness of the all-Wales standards for accessible communication and information for people with sensory loss

by Professor Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health

In December 2013, Wales became the first country in the UK to introduce standards designed to improve the care the NHS in Wales provides to people with sensory loss.

The all-Wales standards for accessible communication and information for people with sensory loss, which were produced collaboratively between the Welsh Government, the NHS Centre for Equality and Human Rights (NHS CEHR) and people with sensory loss will ensure the needs of people with a sensory loss are met when accessing health services.

Our equality laws state there is a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure equality of access to healthcare services for disabled people. Public bodies need to take positive action so all access and communication needs are met.  

The standards set out the level of service delivery people with sensory loss should expect when they access healthcare. These standards apply to adults, young people and children.

People with sensory loss have shared their experiences of using the NHS – some of these have been unacceptably poor. Access and communication problems have compromised both their privacy and their dignity. Services provided by NHS Wales must be accessible to all, across all parts of the service and right across the age range. The standards will help to address the barriers people with sensory loss face in accessing health services, particularly in helping staff to identify patients with sensory loss and meeting their needs.  

What can you do to help?

Health boards have a duty to provide services which comply with these standards and meet your needs. But you can also use these standards in your interactions with the health service – refer to them in discussions with your GP, your nurse, your hospital consultant.

Get to know what you can expect when you visit NHS Wales.  You can read them in large print, Easy Read and BSL using this link:

What Next?

Across the NHS in Wales positive steps are being taken for people with sensory loss. Each health board and NHS trust has appointed a named person to take forward the implementation of the standards.

It will be best practice for patients to provide details of their communication needs at their first point of contact with the health service and thereafter for that information to be shared with other healthcare providers at the point of referral and handover. 

Everyone needs safe and effective communication, especially when using health services. It is not a choice – it is a necessity to keep you safe. We should expect our health services to be exemplars when it comes to meeting the needs of people with health conditions and disabilities, including sensory loss.

I am committed to ensuring these ground-breaking standards are fully implemented and operational in Wales. Both I and the NHS Centre for Equality and Human Rights will continue to provide the support needed to do so.

Article by Professor Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Health & Well-being

3rd July 2014