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DH to issue GPs with guidance on communications with disabled patients

The Department of Health will next month issue guidance for GPs and other NHS professionals on ‘making reasonable adjustments’ in their healthcare settings to improve communication with people with disabilities, a health minister has said.

The guidance will focus on changes that healthcare professionals can make to help patients with physical and mental impairments to understand messages conveyed during consultations and about services offered.

Health minister Norman Lamb said the guidance would be issued before the end of next month. He made this comment in response to a parliamentary question on June 17 by Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North, who asked what the Government was doing to ensure to that GP surgeries and hospitals provide accessible personal information to people with disabilities.

Mr Lamb said: ‘The Department is currently in discussions with its partners about publishing guidance on making reasonable adjustments in health care settings with a view to make a decision before the end of July. Two reminders about reasonable adjustments for disabled service users were also issued to NHS bodies through the Department’s regular bulletins in 2012.’

The Equality Act 2010 requires GPs and other NHS workers to make adjustments that could involve ‘alternative formats’ for giving information, said Mr Lamb. He added: ‘NHS bodies must think in advance and on an on-going basis about what disabled people with a range of impairments might reasonably need.’