Health & Well-being3rd July 2015

NHS England Strive for New Standards for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients

Compliance with the new standards will give effective access to information that has previously been denied to the deaf community

by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

With the NHS Wales Standards for Communication with people with Sensory Loss fast approaching their second birthday, NHS England has today launched the Accessible Information Standard for disabled patients and their carers, a standard that falls well below the improvements the Welsh Government are seeking to achieve.

Launched today, these new standards in England have to be implemented on the 31st July 2016, so NHS services have a full year to gear up their processes and to make their plans in time for the launch date. If the Welsh experience is anything to go by, patients are likely to be left disappointed, but at least they will have something more concrete than the Equality Act to fall back if they need to mount a challenge.

Implementation in Wales has been poor and with ownership of the Standards resting with the Health Minister Mark Drayford, there has been a consistent failure to take decisive action to get each Local Health Board to take them seriously. Leadership on the issue has been so poor that the Health Minister seems to have buried his head in the sand and refuses to respond to questions about Local Health Boards compliance with the standards.

I hope NHS England have better plans in place to ensure compliance so that this does not become another let down for deaf and disabled people. Many people and organisations have worked tirelessly to get NHS England to introduce these standards, and their work or the rights of the patients now needs to be rewarded nit just in the launch but in the delivery.

More detail on the standards can be found at:

NHS England's Release about the Standards is below:

NHS England launches accessible information standard

3 July 2015

New framework set to simplify care information for disabled patients and their carers.

Disabled patients are set to benefit from improved healthcare after a new law comes into force to ensure information they receive is clear, consistent and easy to understand.

The Accessible Information Standard will be implemented on 31 July 2016 and aims to provide people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss with information that they can easily read or understand. This means informing organisations how to make sure people get information in different formats, for example in large print, braille or via a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

All organisations that provide NHS or adult social care are required to follow the new standard, including NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, and GP practices. As part of the accessible information standard, these organisations must do five things:

  • Ask people if they have any information or communication needs, and find out how to meet their needs. Record those needs clearly and in a set way.
  • Highlight or ‘flag’ the person’s file or notes so it is clear that they have information or communication needs and how those needs should be met.
  • Share information about people’s information and communication needs with other providers of NHS and adult social care, when they have consent or permission to do so.
  • Take steps to ensure that people receive information which they can access and understand, and receive communication support if they need it.

Accessible Information Standard has been in development for over two years and overseen by NHS England, the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the Department of Health Directorate of Social Care, the RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Sense, CHANGE and independent patient representatives.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said:“It is vital that everybody understands the information they receive about their health and wellbeing. The Accessible Information Standard will mean that people with disabilities are not left in the dark, leaving them with the peace of mind to fully focus on their care. I’d like to thank all our partners for their hard work over the last couple of years as we turned the Accessible Information Standard into a reality. “

Article by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Health & Well-being

3rd July 2015