What is the NHS Accessible Information Standard?
The NHS Accessible Information Standard (the “Standard”) is the formal guidance developed by NHS England which health and social care providers are required to comply with when they are delivering services to a person who has an information and/or communication need which is related to or caused by a disability, impairment or sensory loss.
The Standard was approved by the Department of Health under section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 in June 2015. It is a legal requirement for applicable organisations to have fully implemented and comply with the Standard by 31st July 2016.
What are the requirements of the Standard?
Applicable organisations are required to complete five stages to identify, record, flag, share and meet information and communication needs. They must:
- Ask people if they have any information or communication needs, and find out how to meet their needs.
- Record those needs in a set way.
- Highlight a person’s file, so it is clear that they have information or communication needs, and clearly explain how those needs should be met.
- Share information about a person’s needs with other NHS and adult social care providers, when they have consent or permission to do so.
- Make sure that people get information in an accessible way and communication support if they need it.
Who does the Standard apply to?
The Standard applies to people with a hearing impairment; visual impairment; dual sensory loss; a learning disability; aphasia; autism and people with a mental health condition that affects communication, and parents and carers.
Aspects considered ‘out of scope’ include:
- Individuals’ preferences for being communicated with in a particular way, which do not relate to disability, impairment or sensory loss;
- Individuals who may have difficulty in reading or understanding information for reasons other than a disability, impairment or sensory loss (for example, due to low literacy or dyslexia);
- Expected standards of health and social care websites;
- ‘Corporate’ communications produced by organisations which do not directly relate to individual care or services, and do not directly affect individuals’ health or wellbeing;
- Foreign language needs – i.e. people who require information in a non-English language for reasons other than disability;
- Implementation of the Equality Act 2010 more widely, i.e. those sections that do not relate to the provision of information or communication support;
- Matters of consent and capacity, including support for decision-making, which are not related to information or communication support;
- Standards for, and design of, signage.
Which organisations are affected?
The Standard applies to all providers of NHS and publicly funded adult social care. This includes:
- All providers of NHS care or treatment;
- All providers of publicly-funded adult social care (inc. care homes and day care);
- Adult social care or services bodies (in their role as service providers);
- Independent contractors providing NHS services including primary medical services (GP practices), dental services, optometric services and pharmacy services; NHS Foundation Trusts and NHS Trusts;
- Providers of NHS and/or adult social care from the voluntary and community or private sectors;
- Providers of public health services, including advice and information. The Standard must also be implemented and adhered to by suppliers of IT systems, software and hardware to health and adult social care organisations and providers.
Although commissioners (organisations with responsibility for commissioning NHS and/or adult social care) are exempt from implementing the Standard, they must ensure that their actions support provider organisations from which they commission services to implement and comply with the requirements of the Standard.
Surrey County Council is implementing changes required as a result of the Standard. For more information, please email Natalie Gordon, Project Officer, Adult Social Care at Natalie.Gordon@surreycc.gov.uk or telephone 0208 213 2878. Or you can write to Surrey County Council, ASC Information and Engagement Team, Room G34, County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2DN.
For more information on the Standard please email NHS England at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01138253002. Or you can write to Accessible Information Standard, NHS England, 7E56, Quarry House, Quarry Hill, Leeds, LS2 7UE.