News

New accessibility project underway at NHS Property Services

by Chris Cunniff

NHS Property Services and DisabledGo are working together to create a new Accessibility Checker for disabled visitors, patients and staff so they can find out about accessibility to a number of the property company’s buildings.

NHS Property Services manages, maintains and improves 3,500 properties, working with NHS organisations to create safe, efficient, sustainable and modern healthcare and working environments.

The initial pilot project involves producing detailed access guides and advice to 30 properties that are owned by NHS Property Services, including; Skipton General Hospital, Farnham Hospital and Sevenoaks Hospital.

This resource will be a great help to disabled people, their carers, friends and family. It will equally be of help to people who would just like to know more about areas and facilities at these sites, such as parking, walking distances, main entrances and toilet facilities.

The surveying is well underway and trained DisabledGo surveyors are visiting and assessing the hospitals throughout August to collect the detailed accessibility information.

DisabledGo is a not for profit social enterprise; it works across the UK to tackle social isolation and inequality through better information provision. Set up in 2000, the organisation was founded by wheelchair user Dr. Gregory Burke in response to the frustrations he faced trying to access new places.

DisabledGo’s website www.disabledgo.com aims to answer everyone’s questions about the accessibility of places they would like to visit. It has been developed by the disabled people who use it, reflecting the needs of people with a wide range of impairments.

The access guides developed with NHS Property Services will be published on www.disabledgo.com and sit alongside a further 125,000 all created from DisabledGo’s surveyors on site assessments.  The access guides do not rate or judge the accessibility of a site, but simply explains what is available, so that patients and visitors can be better informed about the facilities.

Speaking about the project, Anna Nelson, Executive Director at DisabledGo said, “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with NHS Property Services on this very exciting project. The provision of comprehensive, trusted accessibility information can make a huge difference to patient experience and will enable people visiting these sites to plan with confidence. The project will also identify areas that could be improved in the future and raise awareness of the wide variety of access issues people may face. We very much hope that other NHS organisations look to this project as a demonstration of best practice.”

Stuart Hammerton, Head of Safety at NHS Property Services, said; “We are committed to making all our properties accessible to everyone and we are delighted to be working with DisabledGo to continue to improve accessibility for all patients, staff and visitors to our buildings.

“We are a national company, managing 10% of the NHS estate. Most of our buildings are used to provide patient care, such as GP surgeries, health centres and community hospitals and we have identified 30 of these buildings for this pilot with DisabledGo which will provide helpful online guides that will further enhance and improve the patient’s journey.”

The online guide will be available in Autumn 2016 free of charge at www.disabledgo.com and also be featured on NHS Property Services website: www.property.nhs.uk

The 30 properties that will be assessed as part of this pilot  project are detailed below:

NHS Property Services
Beccles Hospital
Benjamin Court
Camborne and Redruth Community Hospital
Crawley Hospital
Edgware Community Hospital
Farnham Hospital
Guisborough General Hospital
Haslemere Hospital & Health Centre
John Coupland Community Hospital
Johnson Community Hospital
Longridge Community Hospital
Louth County Hospital
Ludlow Hospital
Lymington New Forest Hospital
Melton Mowbray Hospital
Newquay Hospital & Annex
Retford Hospital
Ripon Community Hospital
Sevenoaks Hospital
Shire Hill Hospital
Shotley Bridge Community Hospital
Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital
Skegness Community Hospital
Skipton General Hospital
St Austell Community Hospital
St Charles Hospital
St Margarets Community Hospital
St Marks Hospital
Victoria Hospital
Woking Community Hospital