Questions and answers

Following this year’s AGM, below are a set of questions and answers that were raised.


Question 1:

A number of IT questions were received, so these have been grouped together and answered as one;

  • How can the IT system be used for patients with double sensory disability (blind and deaf)?
  • Do we have a programme that puts up a sign on IT when patient with a disability come into the surgert e.g patients who are blind or deaf or visually impaired so that every file can be given to them?
  • Is there a IT system that can translate various patient leaflets into different languages – written or spoken. I know some of the GP systems do.
  • Has anybody thought about an IT system especially financial when someone dies? So when a person dies nobody can see their finances or IT as it is password protected and the system doesn’t belong to family or a close friend?

Answer:

The equality of access to health services is highlighted within several documents including:

  • The NHS Constitution
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Health and Social Care Act 2012
  • Human Rights Act (1998)
  • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental    Freedoms (1950)
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2005
  • Social Value Act 2013
  • Accessible Information Standard SCCI1605

The provider of services must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in making their services accessible to the patients that they serve. This duty applies explicitly for people with protected characteristics; an inability to communicate in English is not a protected characteristic however many people who are new to the country (and as such may struggle with communication) have some of the most challenging health needs. NHS England as the commissioner of services does have a duty to reduce health inequalities as do CCGs so this as a system wide responsibility.

Patients must be able to access primary care services in a way that ensures their language and communication requirements do not prevent them receiving the same quality of healthcare as others and to ensure equality of access and outcomes, patients requiring an interpreter should not be disadvantaged in terms of the timeliness of their access. PCTs established arrangements which NHS England has inherited; these range from Practice specific funding arrangements to jointly commissioned services between the health service and local authorities. However, in terms of ensuring access to all patients, telephone interpretation services should be universally available.

NHS England has commissioned work on articulating quality standards that goes some way to addressing concerns regarding for example the undue reliance on the use of family members for translation support. This is for reasons of both patient confidentiality, but also potentially for safeguarding and sensitivity to personal health problems.

Question 2:

There is a clear focus on place-based work, how are communities of identities, who have specific needs (eg LGBT communities) accounted for and supported in this format?

Answer:

Total Place was launched as part of the 2009 Budget as a key recommendation of HM Treasury’s Operational Efficiency Programme (HM Treasury 2009). It involves local public services working together to deliver better value services to citizens by focusing on joint working and reducing waste and duplication. Initial evaluation offers promising evidence that a place-based approach to local public services can deliver better outcomes and improved value for money.

Already engrained in the NHS ethos, is the recognition and treatment requirements of minority groups.  This can been seen through equality and diversity policies employed throughout the NHS and being delivered daily.

The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity or marital or civil partnership status. The service is designed to diagnose, treat and improve both physical and mental health.  It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and must respect their human rights.

At the same time, it has a wider social duty to promote equality through the services it provides and to pay particular attention to groups or sections of society where improvements in health and life expectancy are not keeping pace with the rest of the population.

The links above are examples of recognition and operational delivery of an independent and effective voice for minority group staff, patients and service users to ensure the NHS delivers on its statutory duties regarding equality.  This is further endorsed by our leadership academy who have been accredited as a Stonewall Diversity Champion.

Question 3:

VCSE orgs are vital in prevention and resilience work, yet they are rapidly losing funding; how can the health and social care system do more to support and learn from (without aiming to replace) this sector?

Answer:

Two consultations published in August 2015 will help to determine the future of voluntary sector involvement in health and care.

As part of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) review, respondents from the voluntary and health and social care sectors will give their views on the current state of partnership working, and how closer collaboration could be fostered.

The second consultation will also seek views on the role and effectiveness of the government’s current ‘voluntary sector investment partnership’ suite of grants.

Commissioned by the Department of Health, NHS England, and Public Health England, the VCSE review is overseen by its advisory group of representatives including those from the voluntary sector.  Both consultations will remain open until Friday 6 November.

Question 4:

As a patient representative who has been involved with my local CCG regarding decisions about service restrictions to meet their financial targets in reality this is cuts and retaining of our local NHS service e.g. cancer drugs, withdrawal of IVF and vasectomies (except of exceptional circumstances). Therefore what pressure is the NHS England board putting on government to increase funding so our NHS services will not be cut nor retained?

Answer:

Please see information about the NHS England Call To Action.