Means of delivering NHS information "restricting patient choice"
Information about NHS services is not getting through to certain sections of the British public, according to a report.
Research by the University of Birmingham's Health Services Management Centre shows that most patient information is provided in the form of written leaflets or via the internet.
But studies show that around one in five Britons do not have basic literacy and struggle to read, while a third of households are not connected to the internet.
This means many people are not able to access or understand information which could help them use the health services more effectively, flying in the face of the government's policy of encouraging patient choice.
Report author Jo Ellins said: "The NHS recognises that information is essential to support patient choice and it is committed to making more information about health services publicly available.
"But the way in which this information is currently provided restricts opportunities for informed choice to more educated and affluent patients. There is a very real danger that this is sustaining, or even increasing, health inequalities."
"As the Nurse Founder of the Medical Advisory Service (many years before NHS Direct) I am certain there is ample evidence that one to one clear communication can do much to both educate patients and reassure them - any nurses with an interest in learning more about the use of the phone in patient assessment and care should go to the MAS site (www.medicaladvisoryservice.org.uk) or please feel free to contact me on my email (firstname.lastname@example.org)" - Kathleen McGrath, London
"There is so much written information out in the public domain that no wonder little notice is taken of them. Personally, my suggestion would be to reduce considerably written information and provide an alternative, either visually on TV or orally on the radio. These will have much better impact for the majority." - V Henry, London