Thousands being spent on access for the disabled

Health chiefs are investing nearly �90,000 to pay for a guide to help disabled people better access services.

SUFFOLK: Health chiefs are investing nearly �90,000 to pay for a guide to help disabled people better access services.

There will be surveys completed of around 300 buildings that provide healthcare in Suffolk in a bid to map-out and detail the accessibility of doctors' surgeries, opticians, pharmacies, dental practices, community hospitals and the buildings providing mental health services. It includes both Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals, Suffolk Community Healthcare buildings and out-of-hours bases.

The guide will also include details of each building's disabled parking, toilets, ramps and lifts, and it tells people if patient information is offered in other formats, such as larger print.

NHS Suffolk is investing �88,000 into the project run by disability organisation DisabledGo, which is expected to be launched in the Spring 2010.

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of NHS Suffolk, said: “The NHS should be accessible to all - and this initiative is vital to making that a reality. We are among the first healthcare systems to choose to make such a comprehensive pack for people with disabilities.

“Not knowing if your doctors' surgery or local optician is easy to get to or whether the doors are wide enough, even, is an extra barrier for people with disabilities to overcome. When you are in the waiting area, is it easy to find the loo or get the information you need in the format you need it? Knowing these simple details before you arrive for an appointment makes all the difference in how you access healthcare.

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“As a patient with persistent pain and some mobility restrictions as a consequence, I know how daunting this can be.”

Optua, a Suffolk disability charity, and Suffolk Disability and Health Action Group are working with NHS Suffolk's community engagement team to make sure that the guides are in an ideal format for users.

Is this investment necessary? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail