Blind Newcastle woman tells of frustration that she cannot read hospital letters

A blind campaigner has said that visually impaired people could be missing 'vital information' as the eye clinic at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary are not providing appointment letters in Braille.

Hazel Hyland, 44, who was born with glaucoma and is registered blind, regularly attends the RVI's eye clinic.

She says that not being given appointment letters in Braille "means missing vital information that could delay treatment or appointments that could lead to complications with my eye treatments."

"Having somebody read a print letter to you is breaking a confidence that you should be able to have yourself, it is breaching your personal liberties," she added.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), alongside other charities, has demanded that the NHS meets the Accessible Information Standard (AIS), which was introduced in 2016 to ensure that people with a disability or sensory loss receive information in a way that meets their needs.

Patient watchdog Heathwatch England is calling for compulsory accessibility training for NHS staff and the appointment of accessibility champions for every health and social care service.

Mike Wordingham from (RNIB) said: "A really big problem that we hear about is the systems within healthcare not talking to each other.

"Even if we have registered our preferred formats with our GP, it is not being passed on within hospitals to different clinics."

Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust told ITV Tyne Tees: “We are currently working with local organisations and partners to explore better and more consistent ways to communicate with patients who have a disability, such as a visual impairment, which includes mobile apps and digital communications.

"Our Newcastle Hospitals website includes accessibility functionality, such as ReciteMe, zoom, and navigation using speech recognition software and our PALS team can also support provide support to patients."