Equality Impact Assessment - Results
Title of Policy
Summary of aims and desired outcomes of Policy
A national eyecare website for Scotland which provides eye care information for both the public and eye care professionals.
Directorate: Division: team
Primary Care Directorate: Dentistry and Optometry Division: Community Eyecare team
The Scottish Government owns and funds the Eyes.Scot website. The purpose of the website is not to duplicate but to complement and work in conjunction with existing websites to provide a 'one stop shop' for all eye care information in Scotland for both the public and eye care professionals.
Amongst other things, the website aims to be a key enabler in helping to promote eye heath, reducing and eventually eliminating health inequalities, improving the accessibility of eye care services in Scotland, supporting visually impaired people through readily accessible information on support and services available to them, and providing NHS Boards with a means by which they can centrally and efficiently provide key information for eye health professionals both in primary and secondary care. It will also signpost and link to stakeholder websites providing information (both for public and for professionals) to which we wish to draw attention.
The impetus for creating a national eyecare website came originally from NHS Boards expressing the need for such a resource; one single place to which professionals could go for important documents.
Whilst NHS Board pages are still under development, this objective has to a large extent now been met within the Professionals section. Through internal discussions and discussions with stakeholders, we recognised however that this website could also provide information in one place for the public.
In particular, it could play a useful role in promoting free regular NHS eye examinations in Scotland, reinforce the message that people should visit their local optometrist as the first port of call, and help address barriers for those on a low income or with children to take advantage of these free NHS eye examinations, by linking to information on how to get help with the costs of purchasing glasses and contact lenses, if required, for which they may qualify.
It could also draw attention to how eye examinations can detect not only the early signs of eye conditions but also other significant non eye-related health conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and, in rare cases, brain tumours) before they become more serious.
Aligning with our work to develop national low vision services across Scotland, we were also keen to ensure that the website provided useful, supportive and accessible information for those with a visual impairment or at risk of losing their eye sight.
In spring 2021, work commenced on the development of a beta site. Following substantial engagement with a range of stakeholders, including NHS Boards, during the development phase, the Eyes.Scot website went live on 9 August 2021.
The Scope of the EQIA
After drafting an overview of content we wished included on our website, which included significant research of other websites and consideration of our audience, we worked closely with NSS who built the site to create an Alpha version for consultation. There were two rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including NHS Boards (January and March 2021). Feedback was then meticulously scrutinised, with the vast majority of change requests incorporated into the website, prior to go-live. In carrying out this exercise, we carefully considered the needs of all potential website users (public and professional) and how to construct the website in a way which was of most use to them.
The scope of the EQIA is therefore all work involved in the design, development and delivery of the Eyes.Scot website, including the approach taken with stakeholder engagement and the final structure and content.
The Eyes.Scot website positively impacts on certain protected characteristics, in particular Age and Disability but also has the potential to impact positively on all the protected characteristics. The website offers the opportunity to promote equality as well as indirectly foster good relations.
For the public, this can be through anyone of any protected characteristic having access to the same information, including to information on the professional pages. However, consideration needs to be given to those who may lack the means or confidence with digital equipment and software to access the website.
For professionals, including partner organisations and third sector organisations, the website offers an opportunity to promote their services and increase understanding in general both within the profession and wider with the public.
For NHS Boards, the ability to understand how other NHS Boards operate and what services are available locally will assist in best practice, as they learn what works best from one another.
The Eyes.Scot website has received an overwhelmingly positive response from our stakeholders. The website now largely meets the needs of all stakeholders, both public and professionals, in terms of providing an overview of all aspects of eye health and eye care, and signposting to trusted sources of information already available.
In particular, the website provides a great deal of assistance for those with a visual impairment or at risk of losing their eyesight, linking to further more in-depth information and signposting to further sources of help such as local or national third Sector organisations
Much of the feedback received revolved around accessibility issues and we have striven to make the website as accessible as possible for those affected. Work is however ongoing to ensure that any outlying accessibility issues are addressed.
NHS Boards have long wished for an area in which local information could be held and published and have warmly welcomed the Eyes.Scot website, as previous attempts to establish such a website had stalled.
NHS Board pages remain underdeveloped at the current time. A template for all NHS Boards to use is under consideration as is a solution to password-protecting some or all NHS Board pages. This remains an important issue to resolve as NHS Boards are unable to share more sensitive information whilst these pages are publicly available.
A solution is being discussed at a Scottish Government Primary Care level, as part of its wider website strategy work.
Recommendations and Conclusion
Any outstanding accessibility issues need to be considered and addressed where appropriate. This will include the potential incorporation of software such as 'BrowseAloud' (now rebranded as the 'ReachDeck Toolbar') to assist accessibility for users with a visual impairment to make full use of the website.
An easy read version might be helpful for those with a learning disability as well as for some people with dual sensory loss.
Consideration also needs to be given as to how information on eye care services and eye health matters can be made available to those who lack the means or confidence with digital equipment and software to access the website.
It would be helpful for NHS Boards to receive some further assistance to take forward their section of the website. A template suitable for all NHS Boards to use, to assist in the development of their webpages should be developed.
A means to restrict access to some or all NHS Board local webpages needs investigated by the Scottish Government, as part of its wider Primary Care website strategy work.