Healthwatch Says More Help is Needed to Make Patient Info Accessible

Healthwatch Says More Help is Needed to Make Patient Info Accessible

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    A report has suggested that people with disabilities be helped out more by health providers to access information. They say that some people who cannot read a print letter or use a phone will need for their information to be read out to them.

    In a survey by watchdog Healthwatch, over 300 people in North Yorkshire were asked about communication from their hospitals, GPs and healthcare providers.

    While the report says there is some good practice, many patients say they are not being communicated in their preferred format. This ultimately causes them to miss appointments which “costs time and money.”

    Healthwatch says that since 2016, the Accessible Information Standard means health and care organisations must legally provide a “consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing, and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment, or sensory loss.”

    The Healthwatch in its report highlighted that people receive printed letters which they are not able to read and therefore they have to ask for private and confidential information to be relayed.

    Scarborough respondent Ian said it was “amazing” that many are still facing such issues in the 21st Century. He added that “The [GP booking] system doesn’t anticipate that not everyone can use the phone,” saying that the problem is because a lot of organizations have not moved with the times.

    Siân Balsom, of Healthwatch York, said the legally-binding accessibility requirement has been out since 2016 but from all indications, many people still struggle to access information in a suitable format.

    “We hope this report will be a first step in improving this situation and making sure that those with lived experiences are listened to and supported,” she said.

    Patient info needs to be made more accessible

    “This is just the beginning of a long-term project in which we hope to work with health and care providers to make accessible information normal practice.”

    Healthwatch North Yorkshire urged healthcare providers to adopt the recommendations of the report.

    “It is essential that organisations ask people what format they need and then act on this information,” Healthwatch said. It also added that it was unfortunate that on many occasions the responsibility still lies on the person to ask that their information be relayed to them in their preferred format; and that when it is raised on many occasions, the needs of the respondents are not taken into account.

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