A CHARITY for visually impaired people in Ryedale is supporting a new campaign to improve access to health information.

Sight Support Ryedale is backing the RNIB campaign Need it to Read it, which encourages health and social care providers to give blind and partially-sighted people with their health information in their preferred format, whether audio, large print, braille or email.

After years of campaigning, all health and adult social care providers in England are now required to provide medical information in a format that blind and partially-sighted people can access independently.

This is thanks to the NHS England Accessible Information Standard which mandates that anyone providing a service on behalf of NHS England or in adult social care must provide information in a format that their patients can access. This includes appointment letters, leaflets, letters regarding treatment and conditions, as well as the dispensing labels on prescriptions.

Sight Support Ryedale has been working closely with Pickering Medical Practice to ensure that its patients, who are living with sight loss, are able to receive their communications from the surgery in a format that they can read themselves.

Julie Atkinson, chief officer of Sight Support Ryedale, said: “This is a huge step forward for visually impaired people. Everyone at Pickering Medical Practice has been incredibly supportive and have taken a very proactive approach to identify those patients with sight loss, ensuring that they receive their medical information in a format appropriate to their individual needs.

“A member of our charity, who has been blind from birth, recently received a letter from her healthcare provider in braille.

“She said that she was overjoyed to read the letter herself and, until then, had not known that she had an NHS number. She read the letter over and over again just because she could.”

Siobhan Gorman, Pickering Medical practice manager, said: “Being able to access your own communication from your doctors’ surgery is very important for someone living with sight loss.

“A patient’s medical information is a very private matter so it’s important that we provide this information in a format that can be read by our patients themselves rather than by a family member.

“Anyone who’s registered with Pickering Medical Practice, and is living with a visual impairment, can tell us that they need to be contacted in a format which is appropriate to them and we’ll be happy to make the necessary arrangements for them.”

For details, phone Sight Support Ryedale on 01653 698860 or go to sightsupportryedale.org