Accessing healthcare can be more difficult for those who have a sensory impairment, learning disability, or other communication need. In 2018 we set out some of the challenges facing people in the Deaf community when they try to access care, and our concerns about Sheffield's services in relation to the Accessible Communication Standard and the Equality Act. You can read about this work here.
Since then, we have continued to raise issues which have impacted on Deaf people's ability to get care, as well as other issues under the Accessible Information Standard (such as availability of Easy Read information). As well as highlighting people's experiences at meetings and committees across the city, we have been asking local NHS Trusts how they are working to improve their communication with patients.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals has now released an updated plan for how they will address issues relating to Accessible Communication. The plan sets out 17 aims, relating to improvements including:
- Implementing more robust systems for recording patients' communication needs
- Raising awareness among staff and recruiting accessibility champions
- Improving the accessibility of letters and texts which are sent to patients
- Including patients in monitoring future interpreting contracts
- Listening to more patients by ensuring accessible routes to give feedback
You can read the full action plan below. We will be requesting regular progress updates on the plans to ensure that patient experience improves.