NHS catches up with equality legislation.

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

Official data confirms disability as top discrimination issue.

What do you think:

  • Do disabled people complain most or do we have more to complain about?
  • Disability discrimination causes most calls on Government service.
  • Work is top disability discrimination issue.

Recent data from the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) shows that a massive proportion of all their calls in August (not far off two thirds) related to discrimination concerns for people with long-term health conditions/disabilities.

This isn’t just a flash in the pan but matches trends reported by EASS at their conference earlier in the year: UK wide, disability issues were at 62% across 12 months’ data – at a level of about four times that of race (15%) and eight times that of sex (8%).  (See the year’s data here and search Conference Word)

So disability issues are by far the biggest cause of discrimination concerns within which   work accounts for 55%, followed by Services and public functions at 26% – it is not all about lifts and ramps (premises were only 4%!)

With disabled people being only about 20% of the population, this level of contact with EASS is too disproportionately high to be ignored. There are doubtless some individuals and organisations making full use of the Service but other groups concerned with race, sex etc are likely to be similarly active.  Population proportions aren’t the explanation either as the level of disabled people is not even twice that of black and ethnic minorities (let alone four times) while sex or gender is close to 50:50.

Instead, the data shows that the Service is primarily dealing with disability discrimination and mainly issues to do with employment.  If we want to reduce the numbers claiming sickness benefits, tackling such high levels of workplace discrimination is worth every penny.  Hopefully the House of Lords Select Committee’s review of Equality Act enforcement will add some much-needed muscle.

The EaSS can help resolve concerns informally, including writing to the organisation in issue.  Contact them:

Telephone 0808 800 0082

Textphone 0808 800 0084

Email via website www.equalityadvisoryservice.com

Post to FREEPOST Equality Advisory Support Service FPN4431

Webchat Available via website

BSL provided through partner Royal Association for Deaf People. More information on homepage.

Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000