RNIB Scotland report highlights problems faced by patients with severe sight and blindness

The charity calls for Scottish health boards to ensure that accessible information policies are implemented

doctor and patient

Blind and partially sighted people are still struggling to receive healthcare information in a format that is accessible to them, according to new research published by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland.

The Communications failure report released by the charity last week (17 February) highlights that patient confidentiality is breached when people have to rely on carers, relatives and friends to read appointment letters, medication and test results.

Author of the report, Laura Jones warned: “This can put patients at risk of missing treatment as well as being confused or misinformed about their healthcare needs. The NHS, itself, puts great emphasis on the cost, in money and time, of missed appointments to over-burdened clinics, so giving patients accessible information makes sense.”

The report was launched by MSP Stuart McMillan and calls for the country’s 14 health boards to ensure that accessible information policies are implemented. It also encourages awareness training for all healthcare staff.

Ms Jones highlighted that it has been almost 10 years since The Patients Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 was introduced. The charter states ‘You have the right to be given information about your care and treatment in a format or language that meets your needs.’

The report found that some patients had not been informed that they could request information in alternative formats, while others lacked the confidence to request information in accessible formats as they did not want to be considered “a burden” or “difficult.”

While the report notes that increasingly healthcare information is provided online, people with disabilities show low levels of digital uptake.