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Campaign success: blind women invited to local GP consultation panel

Steve Hyde, RNIB’s Regional Campaigns Officer for the South West, has helped a woman with visual impairment get access to a previously inaccessible consultation on changes being made to her local GP surgery.

Image: An ophthalmologist smiling at the camera while sitting at a computer, and a slit lamp is in the foreground.

Diane, a resident of Weston-Super-Mare, was unable to comment on the relocation of her GP surgery as it held all consultations on the changes over video communications platform Zoom, which her vision prevents her from using.

She was extremely concerned the relocation would mean it was no longer accessible to her. She tried to raise this concern repeatedly. Diane received no response. Her local councillor’s efforts, and those of her local Sight Support group, had no success either.

Diane called RNIB’s Helpline and was put in touch with Steve who helped her. On Diane’s behalf, he wrote to all involved parties requesting assistance and got a positive response from Nina Farr, CEO of Vision North Somerset at the time.

Nina put Steve and Diane in touch with Mary Adams, a local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) representative, who worked with Steve on accessibility and inclusion in the GP surgery consultation. She has now announced that the consultation material will be made available in all formats.

In addition, the surgery’s deputy manager visited Diane at home, recommended that she join its patient panel and promised to make applications for the panel accessible.

Steve said:

"Helping to ensure that blind and partially sighted people are fully included in their locality is an essential part of our work at RNIB, and we are very pleased that Diane will now be able to have a voice in this consultation."

Steve has since met with the CCG in this area to continue to create a solid working relationship and has been asked to help with the design of the new surgery from a sight loss perspective which is fantastic news.

This is a great win for both Diane and any other local residents who use this surgery and are unable to contribute to the consultation via Zoom. We hope all patients who wish to take part will have their voices heard.