NHS England launches accessible information standard

New framework set to simplify care information for disabled patients and their carers.

Disabled patients are set to benefit from improved healthcare after a new law comes into force to ensure information they receive is clear, consistent and easy to understand.

The Accessible Information Standard will be implemented on 31 July 2016 and aims to provide people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss with information that they can easily read or understand. This means informing organisations how to make sure people get information in different formats, for example in large print, braille or via a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

All organisations that provide NHS or adult social care are required to follow the new standard, including NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, and GP practices. As part of the accessible information standard, these organisations must do five things:

  • Ask people if they have any information or communication needs, and find out how to meet their needs. Record those needs clearly and in a set way.
  • Highlight or ‘flag’ the person’s file or notes so it is clear that they have information or communication needs and how those needs should be met.
  • Share information about people’s information and communication needs with other providers of NHS and adult social care, when they have consent or permission to do so.
  • Take steps to ensure that people receive information which they can access and understand, and receive communication support if they need it.

The Accessible Information Standard has been in development for over two years and overseen by NHS England, the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the Department of Health Directorate of Social Care, the RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Sense, CHANGE and independent patient representatives.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said: “It is vital that everybody understands the information they receive about their health and wellbeing. The Accessible Information Standard will mean that people with disabilities are not left in the dark, leaving them with the peace of mind to fully focus on their care. I’d like to thank all our partners for their hard work over the last couple of years as we turned the Accessible Information Standard into a reality. “


  1. musaab says:

    I am doing a BTEC business cource and for my current assignment i need political factors that impact NHS and their stakeholders. My whole assignment is mainly based on NHS.

    • Debbie says:

      Your PIA includes the following

      New Information Standard: SCCI1605 Accessible Information.
      1. Does your proposal involve using information about patients?
      Yes, but only as part of direct patient care (there is no data set, collection or secondary use of data). The information is to be used by service providers for the purposes of supporting direct patient care.

      However the AIS suggests we should record and crosslink a patients accessibility needs in all areas of the service where they may contact us so this could be Reception, Plaudit Departments, Lost Property etc this would not be for Direct Patient Care and therefore is potentially using information about patients not for direct care which contradicts the PIA.

      It would have been really good to have seen some acknowledgement of the challenges of capturing patient information of any sort in the 999 environment.

  2. Leonard Hodson says:

    I am from the Lancashire Deaf Rights Group. I am aware that the hospitals are suggesting that deaf patients must have a sign language interpreter when going to appointments. There was a deaf patient recently having taken ‘Mediprep’ prior to the day of the appointment and finding that an interpreter could not be booked. The patient was upset when told the appointment had to be cancelled. The patient could read and write but was told this was not allowed. Meaning that the patient has no right to choose whether to have an interpreter or not.

    • NHS England says:

      Hi Leonard,

      Thank you for your comment.

      “The aim of the Accessible Information Standard is to make sure that people who have a disability or sensory loss get information that they can access and understand, and any communication support that they need when using NHS or adult social care services. The Standard makes clear that the type of accessible information or alternative format, and the type of communication support people need, varies considerably. For d/Deaf people, the Standard states that required support may include British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation, support from a speech-to-text-reporter or note-taker, support to use a hearing aid and / or to lipread. As part of the accessible information standard, organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must identify, record, highlight or flag, share and meet people’s information or communication needs.

      The Standard makes clear that people with a disability or sensory loss should receive ‘accessible information’ (‘information which is able to be read or received and understood by the individual or group for which it is intended’) and ‘communication support’ (‘support which is needed to enable effective, accurate dialogue between a professional and a service user to take place’). This includes accessible information and communication support to enable individuals to: make decisions about their health and wellbeing, and about their care and treatment; access services appropriately and independently; and make choices about treatments and procedures. There is more information about the Standard at including copies of the Specification and Implementation Guidance.

      Kind regards
      NHS England