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Copying clinical letters: access issues for speciŽc patient groups

Objectives The aim of this study was to Ž nd out the views of speciŽ c groups of patients on copying clinical letters to patients, with a focus on patients that may have di¤culty accessing or understanding written English.Design A qualitative study using semi-structured group interviews.Setting One primary care trust (PCT) district in the urban north east of England. Participants Eleven voluntary groups serving theneeds of people with learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairments and ethnic minority communities – 29 volunteer participants from a purposive sample of these organisations based in the study PCT area.Results Patients with the deŽ ned access needs were keen to receive copy letters. However, a series of suggestions were made to improve access, including use of a range of formats such as tapes or CDs, translation of medical terms, and provision ofpractice-based language translators and patient advocates.Conclusion Copying letters is soon to become routine NHS policy. This is welcomed by patients. However, there are important issues to address if implementation is to be helpful for all patients


Diana Jelley

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