In August 2016, the NHS launched the Accessible Information Standard (AIS), legally binding specifications designed to ensure all organisations offering NHS and publically-funded adult social care offer assessible services for all.
The AIS sets out a specific measures services should take to identify, record, flag and act on the communication needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss.
Although it was introduced to act alongside the Equality Act 2010, the Accessible Information Standard was designed to improve on shortcomings that often fell short of effectively communicating care plans to patients in a way they could understand, resulting in some patients being unable to make informed decisions about their care and treatment.
It was clear to us that despite the best intentions of NHS commisioners and providers to ensure that services complied with the Accessible Information Standard there would in fact be a period of transition where some service providers would require additional time and resources to ensure that they could fully comply with this legislation.
With the blessing of Southampton City NHS Clinical Commisioning Group (SCCCG) and the support of Healthwatch Southampton, we held an audit of GP practices in S014-19 to check they had hearing loops.
Upon the completition of our audit, we took our findings back to SCCCG who agreed to set aside funds to install hearing loops in the GP practices without them and, where necessary, install additional units in practices as well.