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Two-thirds of NHS Trusts failing to support equal access to care for Disabled patients

25 February 2022

People who are blind, d/Deaf or have a learning disability are increasingly being failed by health services that aren’t meeting their communication needs, new research by Healthwatch England shows.  

The failure puts services in breach of their duty under the Accessible Information Standard, a legal requirement created by NHS England in 2016.  

The Standard requires that all publicly funded health and social care providers identify, record, flag, share and meet the information and communication needs of those who use their services, to ensure equal access to healthcare.  

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request sent by Healthwatch England to NHS providers last year revealed that out of the 139 NHS trusts that responded, only a third, 35%, said they fully complied with the Standard.  

This means that the vast majority of health services are failing to put the Standard into practice.

Healthwatch England issued the FOI requests to 220 NHS providers, including acute and ambulance trusts, to find how they are delivering the Accessible Information Standard after it recorded a significant surge, 141%, in public concerns related to healthcare information during the first year of the pandemic, compared with the same time period pre-pandemic. 

Healthwatch England warns that no-one is currently fulfilling their responsibility for holding health and care services to account for breaching their legal duty to support patients who have additional communication needs.  

Healthwatch England is running a Your Care, Your Way campaign calling for everyone to be given healthcare information in the way they need it. Find out more here.