GPs need to do more to help illiterate people and those without an internet connection to access information about NHS health services.
A study from the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre claims that methods of providing information about local NHS services have limited reach and effectiveness because most NHS information is only accessible via written leaflets or on the internet
It warns that this is not an effective way of communicating health information to groups who are currently not well served by the NHS.
Figures show that one in five British people do not have basic literacy and struggle to read, and a third of households do not have a home internet connection.
As a result, information which is publicised online on portals such as the NHS Choices website or written in leaflets is not accessible or understandable, meaning that people are missing out on key information.
Researchers say that better access to this information could help patients choose and use health services more effectively.
Co-author Shirley McIver said: “Some people will need support to help them find, understand and use information about local services. While GPs are ideally placed to provide this help, our research found that many are not doing so.
“More training for health professionals in how to work in partnership with their patients is necessary.”