A new petition launched by the Sight Loss Councils is calling on the government to adopt five key measures to ensure that blind and partially sighted people have full access to their healthcare information. It is now urging people to sign the petition.
The Accessible Information Standard (AIS) was introduced by NHS England in 2016 and was designed to ensure people who need healthcare information in an accessible format, for example, Braille, audio or large print, receive this.
More than five years after the AIS was introduced, research by Sight Loss Councils has found that 90% of blind and partially sighted people still do not receive health information they could read. In addition, more than half of local NHS bodies have not developed local policies to deliver on the standard’s requirements. This research has led the government to agree to review the standard.
Mike Bell, Sight Loss Councils’ National Public Affairs Lead, said:
“Accessible health information is vital for blind and partially sighted people. Without it, many risk missing appointments, not understanding their treatment or even taking the wrong medication.
“We’re pleased the government has agreed to review the AIS. We are urging them to use the review to properly embed the AIS, make sure NHS bodies stick to its requirements and we achieve a standard that is fit for the future.
“There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the standard. But the postcode lottery of implementation across the country means that the NHS is failing blind and partially sighted people. That is why we’ve launched this campaign to make health accessible.”
The #MakeHealthAccessible petition asks the government to:
- Make sure every NHS Trust, GP practice and health body is required to have a local accessible information policy with clear monitoring measures.
- Make sure all NHS staff receive core training in accessible information and how to communicate with patients and service users appropriately.
- Make sure all NHS bodies consult with blind and partially sighted service users on local implementation of accessible information and seek regular feedback on the effectiveness of their systems.
- Requires NHS England to monitor the implementation of the accessible information standard and produce an annual report on engagement with it.
- Requires the Care Quality Commission to take on a specific responsibility for inspecting AIS compliance as part of their standard review programme.
Full details of the campaign can be found at: www.sightlosscouncils.org.uk/