RNIB Need it to Read it article

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After years of campaigning, it’s here!

All health and adult social care providers in England are now required to provide medical information in a format that blind and partially sighted people can access.

This is thanks to the NHS England Accessible Information Standard (also known as SCCI 1605) which mandates that anyone providing a service on behalf of NHS England or in adult social care must provide information in a format that their patients can access. 

Importantly, the new Standard is in addition to the existing obligation under the Equality Act 2010 on service providers to provide information in accessible formats. The standard has come about because the Government recognised that more needed to be done by the NHS to address the lack of accessible information provision. 

Since 1 April 2016, healthcare providers have had a duty to identify and record how their patients need to be communicated with. This is supposed to happen whether they are visiting them for the first time, or are a regular user of their service. Since July 31st 2016 these records should be in place and patients should be receiving information in a format that they can read.

The Standard covers appointment letters, leaflets, letters regarding treatment and conditions as well as the dispensing labels on prescriptions. RNIB believe that it will deliver a step change in patient communication across the NHS, enabling blind and partially sighted people to manage their own health with the same levels of privacy and independence that sighted people may take for granted. However they are concerned that not everyone is aware of the Standard and that some GPs are unsure of how to implement it.

If you need your NHS information in an alternative format, or know someone who does, RNIB have produced a toolkit and supporting materials to help with notifying healthcare providers of your preferred format. The toolkit includes everything you need to know about the Standard and how to take action.

There are two ways to help you create and send a written notification letter to your GP Practice Manager:

Option 1 – Download a copy of the DIY GP notification template to make your own letter at rnib.org.uk/needittoreadit

Option 2 – phone RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999 for more information and to receive a hardcopy of the GP notification template.

For more information on RNIB campaigns, please visit rnib.org.uk/campaigns or call 020 7391 2123

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