28/03/2023 - Permalink

News from our partners: Healthwatch Shropshire report re experiences of accessing health information and communication

Related topics: Health / Partner organisations

News from our partners Healthwatch Shropshire

Since 2016, the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) has given people with disabilities and people with a sensory loss the legal right to get health and social care information they can understand and communications support if they need it. By law, all publicly funded health and social care providers must fully comply with the AIS.

Last year local health and social care champions, Healthwatch Shropshire, found that implementation of the standard was patchy across the county.

To support Healthwatch England’s Your Care Your Way Campaign, Healthwatch Shropshire gathered experiences of people locally, raised awareness of the standard within the local community and shined a spotlight on the impact of communication needs not being met. They heard from a range of people with communication needs, their families and carers, receiving suggestions to improve communication and the way information can be provided:-

  • Consider print size on letters
  • Displaying patients’ names on a screen when they are called up for an appointment
  • The choice to have information provided via face-to-face appointment
  • Slightly longer appointment times for those with communication needs
  • Staff knowledge of who in the room to provide information to, and what level of detail is appropriate to give.

Lynn Cawley, Chief Officer of Healthwatch Shropshire, said:-

“We all expect to be involved in decisions about our health, treatment and support. But medical and healthcare information can be complex, and if you don’t get clear and understandable information, you might not make decisions that are right for you.

“Some people find getting clear and understandable information even harder because they have communication needs that require support. They might need a British Sign Language Interpreter or information in a format like Braille, easy read or large print.”

The report can be found here https://www.healthwatchshropshire.co.uk/report/2023-03-27/your-care-your-way-meeting-communication-needs  and an easy read version will be available soon.

When NHS England reviewed the AIS in 2022, Healthwatch England worked with partners to identify improvements and actions to help services meet the legally binding requirement and understand its role and NHS England welcomed Healthwatch England’s recommendations.

However, Healthwatch England expressed their disappointment at the lack of action to publish the review of the AIS www.healthwatch.co.uk/response/2023-02-06/open-letter-nhs-england-improve-accessible-information-standard

Healthwatch England stated:-

“On Monday 6 February 2023 we published an open letter to NHS England to express our disappointment at the lack of progress in reviewing the legally binding AIS.

“It’s been nearly a year since we launched the Your Care, Your Way campaign to highlight that everyone should receive healthcare in a format they need while calling to improve the AIS.

“NHS England has undertaken a review of the AIS and welcomed our recommendations. However, it’s now a year later, and we still don’t know when the review will be published or how the NHS will implement changes to improve the AIS.

“That’s why we’ve written publicly to NHS England, calling on them to publish the review of the AIS and clarify how they will take forward its recommendations.”