It is hoped that organisations will recognise the significant benefits to their patients and service users of implementing the Standard, and accept that compliance is in line with commitments to equitable, high quality, accessible and personalised care.
The Standard should make a significant impact to the outcomes and experience of patients who need information in a different format or communication support, as well as improving patient safety and clinical effectiveness. For example, access to information in a format they can understand should help patients to manage their conditions better, to take up screening, and to access services more appropriately.
As compliance with the Standard is a legal duty (section 250 Health and Social Care Act 2012), organisations that do not comply with the Standard would be leaving themselves open to legal challenge. Non-compliant organisations should also be aware of the risk of complaints, investigation and negative media coverage. There is significant interest in, and support for, the Standard from a range of voluntary sector organisations, including large national charities such as Action on Hearing Loss and the RNIB, who have committed to actively supporting, and pushing for, implementation of the Standard locally as well as nationally.
Whilst there is no requirement for organisations to report on their adherence to the Standard (and no national audit or dataset is being created), the Standard includes requirements for organisations to publish or display an accessible communications policy which explains how they will follow the Accessible Information Standard, and an accessible complaints policy. The inclusion of these requirements is intended to support ease of compliance assessment by interested organisations, and to ensure that people with information and communication support needs are able to provide feedback to organisations about their experiences.
The Specification also makes clear that commissioners must support providers to comply with the Standard, including through contracts, tariffs, frameworks and performance-management arrangements. Commissioners must also seek assurance from providers in this regard.
In addition, the Care Quality Commission have stated that they will, “…look at evidence of how services implement the Accessible Information Standard when we make judgements about whether services are responsive to people’s needs.”