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NHS England launches accessible information standard

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.

The 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. “