The Royal Free Hospital is supporting visually impaired patients by becoming the first hospital in the country to introduce a new scheme.

We have been working with the voluntary organisation Visually Impaired in Camden to improve the experience for visually impaired patients when staying in hospital.

Together, we have developed a symbol to be displayed above a patient’s bed so that staff are immediately aware that a visually impaired patient require extra support. This may include a guide to accompany the patient while at the hospital and access to information in a preferred format, for example letters, reading materials and menu cards. Patients will have an option to opt in or out of the scheme.

The sign was officially launched on Monday 19 September 2011 by Councillor Abdul Quadir, mayor of Camden; David Sloman, chief executive of the Royal Free; Debbie Sanders, director of nursing and Rosemary Nicholson VIC.

Mr Sloman said: “For patients who have a visual impairment, a hospital experience could be frightening or isolating, so it is important our staff know how we can help.

“I would personally like to thank Visually Impaired in Camden for their continued support. It proves that working in partnership can lead to a practical solution
“The sign we are piloting is a very simple step, but one which will hopefully make a big difference to our visually impaired patients.”

Rosemary Nicholson, for Visually Impaired in Camden, said:  “We are delighted with the positive response from the Royal Free to help improve the experience of blind and partially sighted people while staying in hospital. We look forward to continuing collaborative work with the trust on this and other initiatives in order to ensure services are accessible for people with visual impairments.”