Headlines: March 14th, 2000

The NHS needs to produce information that patients both understand and want if it is to meet its obligations to inform and involve users, according to a King’s Fund report.The POPPi Guide: Practicalities of producing patient information, argues that only patients and carers really know what information they need and that they should be involved in what is produced and how it is presented.

Patient information should allow people to understand their illnesses and to participate in decisions about how they are treated. To achieve this, information should outline the range of treatment options and explain the implications for the patient’s quality of life as well as the medical outcomes.

The POPPi Guide reviews the pros and cons of various types of patient information, from leaflets through to computer programmes.

King’s Fund chief executive Rabbi Julia Neuberger said: “The NHS has been committed to informing patients about their own health care and involving them in it for many years. Yet the quality of information patients receive is often poor, and consultations with doctors are rarely the equal partnerships they should be.”

Co-author Christine Farrell said: “Patient information is not a substitute for open and honest communication between doctor and patient. It is, however, an important tool for improving the quality of consultations and giving patients a real say in how they are treated.”

The POPPi Guide is available from the King’s Fund bookshop on 020 7307 2591, price 10.99 pounds.

Last year, the Department of Health published Patient and public involvement in the new NHS, which made partnership between doctors and patients a key target for the health service.