National Health Service (Access to Information)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Health and Community Care – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 7th December 2006.

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Photo of Irene Oldfather Irene Oldfather Labour 2:15 pm, 7th December 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive what importance it places on ensuring that patients have adequate access to health service information. (S2O-11401)

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

We recognise that the provision of relevant, high-quality, accessible information is essential to allow patients to access the local health services that they need and to become partners in decisions about their care. The Scottish health council led a national conference on the subject last month to establish how we can continue to improve the provision of patient information.

Photo of Irene Oldfather Irene Oldfather Labour

Does the minister agree that although the increasing availability of information on the internet is welcome, it is not suitable or accessible for all service users, particularly the elderly? Does he also believe that every possible effort should be made to enable elderly service users to understand their rights? Will he undertake to consider how information could be made more readily available to vulnerable groups to empower them to ensure that their patient and/or resident rights in relation to national care standards are protected?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I am happy to consider the point that Irene Oldfather raises. She has made it before and I have a good deal of sympathy with it. We want to ensure that people not only have theoretical access to information but are able to obtain it. I understand her point that information that is primarily available on the internet is not equally available to all. We will certainly consider any suggestions that she may wish to make, and I invite her to write to me with some.