Access without barriers

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire decided to investigate the experience of the D/deaf community in accessing healthcare services after being contacted by several people who had a poor experience of healthcare because they didn’t get the appropriate communication support. They spoke to 41 people in total.  They also reviewed local health services website information, specifically looking at content for D/deaf users and their carers.

The research found that, despite the introduction of the Accessible Information Standard in 2016, challenges remain for D/deaf people when accessing health care.  The AIS is not applied consistently across health services and indeed geographically. People have raised concerns about the disparity that they feel between area provision.  The website review and feedback highlighted a lack of transparency with public facing information. If people with communication needs do not know what is on offer, it would be very challenging for them to make informed choices.  Individuals need to be empowered to choose services that can meet their needs, and this will only happen if providers arrange for the most up to date information and advice to be made available in various mediums.

The report contains 7 recommendations about how healthcare providers should ensure compliance with the Accessible Information Standard, including how letters are worded, training for staff and better information on websites.

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General details

Report title 
Access without barriers
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 17 June, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 1 January, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 28 February, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Information providing
Quality of care
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Focus group
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Accident & emergency
Urgent and emergency care services 
Accident & emergency

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.