Interpreting and translation services

We are committed to ensuring effective communication and full participation with patients, their relatives and carers.

The trust has a statutory and moral responsibility to patients and the public to ensure that the services we provide are equally and easily accessible to all sections of the communities we serve. We recognise that patients, relatives and carers with a day-to-day understanding and use of English may have difficulty with complex medical language and the written word when discussing complex medical conditions and giving informed consent for procedures.

To this end, the trust offers an interpreting service, with a dedicated administrative team overseeing the running of the service. We use carefully screened and qualified interpreters, who offer a strictly confidential service in a wide range of languages. There are three main types of interpreting provided by the trust:

  • Telephone interpreting 
  • Face-to-face interpreting
  • Sign language interpreting

Booking an interpreter

If you are attending the hospital for the first time, your GP will notify the hospital of your need for communication support and this will then be arranged by hospital staff. The majority of patients will be provided with telephone interpreters, while face to face interpreters can be booked if there is a specific need for it.

Communication support can also be provided for follow up appointments. Telephone interpreters do not need to be pre-booked, so when attending your appointment, please inform reception staff at the clinic that you require interpreting services. There may be times when a face-to-face interpreter is required but this will be identified and booked by hospital staff.

If you require face to face communication support for follow up appointments, please let reception staff know before leaving the clinic and they will arrange this for you.

British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, lip speakers and touch sign interpreters are also available at the trust. Please note that BSL interpreters must be booked 10 working days in advance to ensure availability. We will always do our best to source a sign language interpreter, even if the notice period is less than 10 working days.

Contacting the interpreting team

If you wish to confirm that an interpreter has been booked, you can contact the interpreting team on the details below.  You should provide details of your hospital appointment, your communication requirements and your hospital number and/or date of birth. The contact details are as follows:

Telephone: 020 8216 4661 or 020 8216 4993
Fax: 020 8216 4528
Email: rf-tr.interpretingservices@nhs.net

Interpreters for other kinds of appointments

Should interpreters be required for other types of hospital appointments, hospital staff will book this on your behalf. If you have any special requirements or preferences, please discuss this with staff within the department where you are receiving your care.