Enabling people to make informed health decisions

Recent research in England showed that 43% of working age adults do not understand health information in the format that the NHS provides it. This rises to 61% when an element of numeracy is involved. NHS England will work together with partners to address health literacy. We want to make sure that people have the skills, knowledge and support they need to understand and act on health information and access services. We need to find ways to help practitioners recognise the health literacy needs of patients, carers and service users.

An important element of our health literacy work is to ensure that individuals have access to good quality accessible information, and appropriate support. This will enable them to play an active part in their own health and care and be involved in decisions about their treatment and care.

Improving the quality and accessibility of health information

The Information Standard is an accreditation scheme for organisations that produce health and care information for patients and the public. It was set up to help drive up the quality of consumer health and care information. Information Standard membership enables organisations that produce information to use the easily recognisable kite mark. This ensures that patients and equally, health professionals and others that signpost to health and care information can be assured they are accessing good quality information where they see the logo (kite mark).

The Accessible Information Standard tells organisations how they should ensure that disabled people receive information in formats that they can understand and they receive appropriate communications support to help them. All providers of publicly funded health and adult social care services, including hospitals and GP practices must meet the requirements of the Accessible Information Standard by 31 July 2016.

NHS England will raise awareness of both standards across the health system by producing guidance, tools and resources and working with partners

Shared Decision Making (SDM) and patient decision aids (PDAs)

NHS England is committed to supporting Shared Decision Making. This involves letting patients review all the treatment options available to them so they can work with their healthcare professional to make the decisions that work best for them.

Shared Decision Making can bring patients and healthcare professionals together, on an equal footing, to make decisions focused on the needs of each individual. More work is needed to change systems and processes within the NHS that support Shared Decision Making. We are working with partners, including NICE, to look at what changes are needed to support Shared Decision Making across the NHS.