NHS apologises to blind man after communications error

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has apologised to a blind patient after correspondence sent in the wrong format meant he was unable to read it.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 11:41 am

In January 2018 a note was added to the medical records of Peter Bennetts of South Shields, informing all staff at South Tyneside District Hospital that he must be contacted by email in Microsoft Word format, as he has software that will read it aloud.

He had asked for this, feeling that it was best for him, despite concerns over data security.

However, when the trusts of South Tyneside and Sunderland merged in October 2019 a new digital records system was put in place and Mr Bennett’s request was only recorded on paper and not digital records.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has apologised to Peter Bennetts, who is registered blind.

The NHS is obliged to correspond with blind people in the method of their choosing. But Mr Bennetts, 66, received a text asking him to go online to enter a pin and his date of birth to access a letter. This was not suitable.

Mr Bennetts, 66, a former chair of the North East Royal National Institute for the Blind, complained on September 29, 2021. His complaint was acknowledged and, he received a written apology from South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Unfortunately, although the complaint was upheld the trust again suggested an inaccessible format and he launched a second complaint.

He said: “I’m disappointed that following my complaint in 2018 that little or no progress appears to have been made by the trust.

"I can only hope that the situation will improve as this could impact on many other people across the borough.”

Diane Palmer, deputy director of nursing at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would like to sincerely apologise to Mr Bennetts and thank him for bringing these concerns to our attention.

“We work closely with patients, families, carers and partner organisations to ensure that the information we provide is available in a range of accessible formats.

"We have also made a number of improvements to our digital patients records so it is really clear how patients would prefer us to communicate with them.

“We have extended an invitation to Mr Bennetts to work with us and share his experiences so we can continue to improve the way we communicate with patients.”

Read More

Read More
Covid patient thanks team of doctors and nurses for 'saving his life’ after thre...

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to all of our news and sport, see fewer ads, experience faster load times, test your brain with daily puzzles and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. The Shields Gazette has been on South Tyneside since 1849, and your support means we can continue telling your stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe.