CQC’s commitment to the the Accessible Information Standard

NHS England’s Head of Public Participation reflects on some exciting news:

The Care Quality Commission published its new equality objectives for 2017-2019 last week.

Whilst this may not seem particularly noteworthy – ‘another corporate announcement, so who cares?’ – please bear with me because you may be surprised.

The five objectives are:

  • Person centred care and equality
  • Accessible information and communication
  • Equality and the well-led provider
  • Equal access to pathways of care
  • Continue to improve equality of opportunity for our staff and those seeking to join CQC

While all five of the objectives represent really positive commitments, and will doubtless have important benefits for a range of groups, my personal interest is in objective two.

As you may know, the Accessible Information Standard sets out requirements for all providers of NHS care and / or publicly-funded adult social care to identify, record, flag, share and meet the information and communication needs of people with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. Since 1 August 2016, all providers have a legal duty to be meeting the Standard in full.

We have recently concluded our review of the Standard – the deadline for feedback was 10 March – and we are currently analysing responses and preparing a report.

Without wanting to pre-empt the outcome or conclusion, early indications are that many, perhaps most, respondents generally believe the Standard is ‘a good thing’ and should make a really positive difference. However, in order to do so, more organisations need to be complying with it in full.

So, the CQC’s commitments to “look at how all services are applying the standard in our regulatory work…” and that their “assessment frameworks will include key lines of enquiry, prompts and ratings characteristics on the standard…” have the potential to make a really positive difference by actively promoting and encouraging compliance by all organisations.

In terms of measuring success, CQC have set the ambitious target that, “From October 2017, all inspection reports include how providers are applying the standard.”

This is great news, and I look forward to working with colleagues in the CQC to support achievement of this ambition, and to ensuring the Standard delivers on its own ‘unashamedly ambitious’ objectives to improve the health and wellbeing of people with a disability, impairment or sensory loss.

  • Further information about the Accessible Information Standard can be found on the NHS England webpages.
  • Further information about the CQC’s equality objectives can be found on the CQC’s webpages.
Olivia Butterworth

Olivia leads the Patient and Public Voice team at NHS England. Olivia’s responsibilities include promoting citizen participation and engagement in all aspects of NHS England business.

Major work areas include building a citizen voice ‘assembly’, the strategic relationship with the voluntary sector, the partnership with Healthwatch England, participation in specialised commissioning and facilitating NHS England’s wider engagement approaches.