Accessible information standard – GP services

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Summary of report content

In 2016, Healthwatch Lewisham published a report “See Hear Now - Access to health and wellbeing services for people with sensory impairments and learning disabilities”. The engagement for this inquiry was carried out before the formal deadline for the implementation of the NHS Accessible Information Standard (AIS) in July 2016. Key highlights included communication barriers for people with visual and hearing disabilities, and a lack of awareness and availability of sign language interpreters. This report builds on our initial inquiry and aims to assess the implementation of the Standard by local GP surgeries. During 2017/18 Healthwatch Lewisham engaged with 12 GP surgeries in the borough, to establish their response to the AIS standards. The key findings of the twelve surgeries only eight (66.6%) were aware of the AIS Standard, three were unaware and one was unsure. The findings suggest that the surgeries have some tools to support communication for disabled people, however the support available is inconsistent. This could result in patients having different experiences of access depending on which surgery they are registered with. Six GP receptionists said that they offer longer appointment times for people who require additional support because of a disability. This approach could ensure disabled people have more time to communicate with a doctor or a nurse. 100% of surgeries told Healthwatch Lewisham that they record additional communication needs which are stored on their computer system. However, three surgeries told us that it was not always easy to find the information. A flagging system would help front line staff to have easier access to the information. In addition, asking patients about their communication needs would help inform patients of their eligibility to additional communication options as per the AIS. Findings from Healthwatch Lewisham engagement suggest that disability awareness training would improve disabled people’s experience of health and social services. Many disabled people said that a big part of having a positive experience at GP practices was a result of knowledgeable staff that have disability awareness. The report contains 9 recommendations in relation to themes associated with communication support, appointment times, systems and training.

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General details

Report title 
Accessible information standard – GP services
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Lewisham
Date of publication 
Friday, 24 August, 2018
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 24 August, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 24 August, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Building and facilities
Communication between staff and patients
Health inequalities
Health protection
Information providing
Quality of regulation
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
Unstructured Interview
How was the information collected? 
Visit to provider
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
Not Known

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Not known
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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
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? 
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact
Tangible impact (not cost related)

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.