Headlines: June 10th, 2004

Britain’s 9.8 million disabled people can expect better services in health and social care settings from October, when new legislation comes into effect. A joint Framework for Partnership Action on Disability, devised by the Department of Health and the Disability Rights Commission, sets out how the improvements will be delivered.The Framework recognizes that a culture change is needed before disabled service users, carers and the wider disabled community, will be able to influence service design and delivery. In a move to stimulate this change the Department of Health will set up initiatives to better understand the impact of policies and service delivery for disabled people. At the same time methodologies will be devised to monitor progress in implementing new disability legislation in health and social care. There will also be a forum of inspectorates and regulatory bodies to develop approaches to evaluating the quality of services for disabled people.

Raising awareness of disability issues and the rights of disabled people is a major challenge. The Framework outlines how NHS and social care providers will be supported to meet the requirements of existing and forthcoming legislation. Guidance for providers on cost-effective good practice will be developed and there will be a programme to promote awareness of the access duties for NHS and social care stakeholders.

The Framework also outlines how employment opportunities for disabled people in the NHS will be improved. This includes designing a disability equality training strategy for the NHS workforce and publicising examples of disability-related good practice in employment for health and social care organisations.