Springing forward with clearer communication

Since 1 April, practices have been legally required to adhere to NHS England’s accessible information policy

08 Apr 2016 by Olivia Wannan

BrailleThe Optical Confederation (OC) is reminding practices of their new requirements under the Accessible Information Standard, which came into effect on 1 April.

The confederation has released a guidance document to clarify the new policy and help practice owners to implement it.

NHS England approved the standard – which legally requires all NHS and adult social care providers including optical services to provide information to patients with disabilities or sensory losses in a suitable format – last July.

AOP professional adviser Geoff Roberson told OT that the guidance provides a good outline of the interim steps practices now needed to take.

“We would encourage members to read it so they understand what their obligations are,” he said.

The AOP will be providing ongoing support for the change, Mr Roberson confirmed.

The OC met with NHS England after the standard was announced to raise their concerns, and sought specific guidance for optical providers.

The NHS clarified that: “The standard is intended to promote flexible and practical adjustments that enable people with information and communication support needs to participate fully in their care, not to impose undue burdens on providers that do little to benefit patients.”

It was not yet known how the more costly adjustments, such as blind sign language interpreters, that may be required under the standard will be funded. The OC is currently discussing the issue with NHS England.

Mr Roberson said the AOP maintained it was reasonable for the NHS to fund interpreters, as they currently do.

An Accessible Information Guidance document is available on the AOP website.

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