What do you think:
- Does your GP or hospital always give you information that you can read and understand?
- If not, does it mean that you miss out on appointments, treatment, care or health checks?
- Does your health suffer?
It has taken the NHS 21 years, some significant disasters in care and its own internal Standard to take the law seriously: providing accessible information and communications as originally laid down in the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and then strengthened by the Equality Act (2010).
Back in 2014, the Chief Medical Officer reported on the poor health outcomes for people with sensory impairments: in addition to increased prospects of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, people with blindness or deafness are more likely to have other long-term health conditions, anxiety or stress and have less confidence in managing our health. I wrote to her and blogged suggesting that our difficulties in getting information from the NHS was probably a significant contributory factor because our contacts with medical care are fewer and probably less successful.
Now the NHS has introduced a new Standard aimed at those involved in health care and adult social care to change how they treat patients, service users, carers and parents, where their information and communication support needs relate to a disability, impairment or sensory loss.
If you have information or communication needs (or look after someone who does):
- tell your GP practice manager (ideally in writing) and;
- give them permission to share your requirements with others in the NHS or adult social care (which saves you from repeating it).
Then they should flag your records and take action to meet your needs.
Act Now: The more of us who ask, the better they should become and then we have more chance of better health in the future.
Penny Melville-Brown OBE
Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk
Helping disabled people to work since 2000