The NHS in England recognises the importance of empowering the public to manage their own health and make informed decisions about their care and treatment, as well as supporting people to improve their health to give them the best opportunity to lead the life that they want.
Health literacy is crucial to this, as reported by National Voices in their recent paper (A New Relationship with People and Communities (2017)):
“the strongest correlation to ill health – stronger than education level, deprivation, age or ethnicity – is health literacy”.
But what is it? Health literacy can be defined as “the personal characteristics and social resources needed for individuals and communities to access, understand, appraise and use information and services to make decisions about health.”
Low health literacy can affect a patient’s ability to:
as well as impact:
Making Every Contact Count and Health Literacy are the bedrock principles for how patients, practitioners and organisations address the issues of prevention of ill health, effective management of long term conditions and the how/what to expect from patients in relation to their service interactions.
To further promote these concepts and how they align to quality improvement, commissioning opportunities and building the case for health literacy, we are fortunate to have secured national clinical and policy leads – Dr Joanne Protheroe (National Clinical Advisor) and Jonathan Berry (NHS England) as well as colleagues who have been developing pilots in this area to impart their knowledge and experience as well as advising us on practical steps and work being undertaken to deliver on this national priority.
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