EHRC seeks assurance from NHS Scotland over equal access to health care

Published: 22 Jun 2016

EHRC Scotland will be contacting Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board to seek assurances that their legal requirements are being met for all disabled patients.

This follows a ruling from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman that a patient at Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire was not provided with the reasonable adjustments she was entitled to under the Equality Act 2010.

The Commission will also raise our concerns that the needs of disabled patients are not being routinely met across Scotland with the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and the Director General of Health & Social Care. Meeting the needs of every patient is central to the delivery of good quality patient care as well as being at the core of the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011.

The Ombudsman was concerned the hospital’s consultation process failed to meet the needs of disabled people generally and this patient specifically. NHS Ayrshire and Arran are required to ensure disabled patients have equal access to healthcare, so must make reasonable adjustments where they are needed.

Alastair Pringle, Scotland Director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

Only 18 months ago we supported a legal case where a deaf woman was not given access to BSL interpreters during her hospital stay in NHS Tayside. 

Our work with NHS Tayside on this resulted in their commitment to improve their systems and ensure BSL interpreters were available to all patients. We have been engaging closely with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to ensure that lessons from Tayside have been learned and that every patient has access to BSL interpreters. 

I am disappointed we are here again so soon, presented with another case where the NHS in Scotland is failing people with individual needs. 

Our work on BSL access with NHS Tayside demonstrates how it is possible to get it right for one part of the population. The NHS now needs to look at how it will transfer the lessons learned in this case across Scotland and to all areas of disability. It is vital that we understand who people are and what their needs are in order to provide appropriate adjustments to allow them to enjoy the same access to healthcare as others.

Responding to individual needs is central to the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act and central to the NHS Scotland Person-Centred Health & Care programme, yet here we see people with individual needs not having those needs met.

The Commission will be seeking assurances from the Director General of Health and Social Care that these cases are the exception, not the rule, and that equal access to healthcare is a priority for NHS Scotland.

Notes to Editors

For more press information please contact Sarah Thoms on 0141 228 5974, out of office hours 07854 193592.

  • The ruling from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman: read more
  • An article on our work with NHS Tayside: read more

Press contact details

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