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NHS hospital services

Information for disabled people going into hospital

If you are disabled and you need hospital treatment, it is important that you inform the hospital about the nature of your disability and the extra support you need.

If your local doctor refers you for treatment, they will inform the hospital staff of your needs. You can also discuss your requirements with members of hospital staff when they complete your admission form on your arrival in hospital.

The admission form gives hospital staff an idea of how much help you may need during your stay in hospital. You might want to discuss: 

  • any routines you have
  • specialist equipment that the hospital may not be able to provide
  • having a carer present with you at certain times
  • access to facilities, such as bathrooms and toilets
  • using a fixed loop or subtitles for television or radio  


Before you go into hospital, it is important to notify the relevant benefit authorities. For more information about how a hospital stay will affect your benefits, see GOV.UKwebsite on Financial help if you are disbaled.

Consent to treatment

For some procedures, including operations, you will be asked to sign a consent form. For more information, see Consent to treatment.

Most people with disabilities wil be asked to give their consent to any treatment in hospitals. However, where people lack capacity to give consent, they will be treated under the Mental Capacity Act.

Where a person clearly lacks the capacity to make decisions at the time they are admitted to hospital, health professionals will make what is called a 'best interests decision' on whether specific treatment is in a person's best interests. Doctors and nurses will weigh up the benefits and risks, including whether the person is likely to regain capacity and regain the ability to give or withhold consent. Read more about how to assess capacity to consent.

A person may wish to plan ahead for a time when they cannot give consent. They can pre-arrange a legally binding advance decision to refuse certain treatments (previously known as an advance directive). Healthcare professionals must follow the advance decision, providing it is valid and applicable. Read more about advance decisions.

In addition, they can make broader statements about how they wish to be treated (for example they may wish to have terminal care in their own homes where possible), which are not legally binding, but which health professionals will take into consideration.

Everyone is encouraged to ask questions about any proposed treatment and to be fully informed about options before or during their stay in hospital. 

Leaving hospital

If you are disabled, staff will arrange transport for you, if necessary, to return home when you leave the hospital.

If you have recently become disabled, or have given birth to a disabled child, the hospital will tell local social services so that you get the help you need. To find out about the financial support you may be entitled to, see GOV.UK: guide to financial support for disabled people


Page last reviewed: 04/10/2012

Next review due: 04/10/2014

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