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Investment in patient information and support improves patient safety, says report

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The Patient Information Forum recently published research from over 300 studies which found good business reasons to justify the investment of more time, money and training in health information provision and support.

These include positive impacts on service use and costs, substantial capacity savings, and significant returns on investment.

Forum chair Mark Duman said: “If we fail to provide patients with the information and support they need, we compromise all three dimensions of quality care – patient experience, patient safety and clinical effectiveness.

“There is plenty of rhetoric about the importance of patient information. We now need to see action.”

Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, which part- funded the project, added: “We welcome this report, which brings together the evidence base for consumer health information.

“It is proof that we need to integrate good health information into service provision both to reduce health service costs and deliver better outcomes for patients.”

Professor David Haslam, chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, also backed the report.

He said: “Providing high-quality information for patients can be every bit as important as providing good medication. 

“This is why we publish a ‘patient version’ of every piece of guidance we issue on the diagnosis and care of a particular condition. We believe this empowers patients to know what to expect from their healthcare professionals and when.”

The Francis report on Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust emphasised that sensitive information provision was a vital element of patient-centred care.

But given the unprecedented pressures facing the NHS, the forum believes that it is not just the right thing to do from an ethical perspective, it is also a clinical and financial imperative.

If patients are not provided with the right information at the right time, we will continue to diminish their experience of healthcare, compromise their safety and wellbeing, and waste increasingly scarce public money.

The forum is therefore calling on health professionals to take action to make sure patient information is an integral part of their approach to providing high quality patient-centred care.

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