Hello to all:)
A couple of weeks ago I attended an Accessible Implementation Standard implementation workshop, run by NHS England, and thought I’d take this blog opportunity to urge everyone to write to their GP, their clinic, their social services provider and inform them of their preferred format and communication needs.
The NHS England Accessible Implementation Standard was approved and launched last summer. It is there to ensure that patients and service users (and, where appropriate, carers and parents) with information or communication support needs (relating to a disability or sensory loss) have those needs met by health and social care services and organisations.
This includes recording people’s preferred formats (eg. font size, text messages, emails, Braille, etc) and language/literacy needs (eg. British Sign Language, Easy Read, etc), and meeting those needs.
By 31 July 2016 all organisations that provide NHS or publicly funded adult social care must have fully implemented and conformed to the Accessible Information Standard.
Having attended the implementation workshop, I must say I will be very surprised if half the NHS and Adult Social Care providers have met these requirements by July.
There were over 100 delegates, inc. NHS Trusts, Public Health, CCG, Local Authority, plus a few Voluntary Sector reps & Information providers. At one point, ironically and almost laughably, they asked for a show of hands from each sector…. until yours truly pointed out that this was not at all accessible to the VI delegates!… so they then resorted to a flustered attempt to give an idea of percentages present from each sector.
However, that aside, most delegates at the workshop actively welcome this directive, as the need for it is apparent and its implementation could save a lot of time, money and wasted resources…. BUT
To my mind the issue is that whilst the Standard has been approved, launched and made a statutory requirement, there is no centralised monitoring of its implementation, no-one is charged with ensuring compliance, there is no tick box, no imperative to fulfil implementation by July 2016 (other than it is statutory and therefore open to legal action if it is not met).
So why should this succeed where the Disability Discrimination Act, Equality Act and Care Acts have not?
The onus will be on the Voluntary Sector to promote and monitor effective implementation (and to bring legal action if necessary) and on individuals to make their needs known and met.
The Accessible Implementation Standard does provide us with a much-needed opportunity to hold providers to account – we now have a statutory mandate with which to demand that the information we receive and the consultations (appointments) we attend are accessible to us.
By 1 April 2016 all organisations that provide NHS or publicly funded adult social care must identify and record information and communication needs with service users
So I urge everyone to write to their GP, their clinic, their social services provider and inform them of their preferred format and communication needs so that we can take the opportunity the Accessible Implementation Standard presents and ensure it is put to effective use. (TOP TIP: make sure you keep a paper and/or email trail as evidence of your communication… RNIB will have guidelines available from April: http://www.rnib.org.uk).