NHS England has introduced a new Accessible Information Standard as a legal requirement for all providers of NHS and adult social care services in England. This includes GOS contractors.
The purpose of the Standard is to ensure that people who have communication needs because of a learning disability or sensory impairment receive information in a suitable format of their choice.
Along with the other primary care professions, the Optical Confederation responded to the consultation on this Standard in 2014, pointing out both the difficulties and costs of implementation in primary care and calling for further discussions. However the Standard was approved, unchanged, on 24 June 2015.
The primary care professions, including the Optical Confederation, are working together to make further representations to NHS England about the impracticability and costs of immediate implementation as proposed and to consider how costs can be minimised.
In the meantime the Standard requires providers (including GOS contractors) to have started preparing for implementation by September 2015. Full implementation of the Standard is expected of providers by July 2016.
To read and think about the information contained in the Optical Confederation guidance note constitutes preparing to implement the Standard and means contractors will not be in breach of contract. Further advice from the Optical Confederation will be issued to support contractors, in the light of representations being made to NHS England.
To view the guidance issued by the Optical Confederation click here.