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.

Use of family and friends for interpreting

The use of family, friends or unqualified interpreters is strongly discouraged and is not considered good practice.   The use of family or friends to interpret information may compromise patient safety and confidentiality, and family or friends could be biased, selective or inaccurate in the information that they relay to the patient.  Indeed, the error rate of untrained interpreters may make their use more high risk than having no interpreter at all. 

However, patients do have the right to refuse an interpreter and have the right to invite a person of their own choosing to act as an interpreter on their behalf.  If so, it will be explained to them that it would be in their best interest to use the service of a professional interpreter for clarity and understanding.  If it is expressly desired by the patient that a family member or friend acts as interpreter, the patient’s informed consent to this must be sought in their own language and sought from them independently of the family member or friend.  The offer of using a professional interpreter, and the patient’s choice not to do so, will be recorded in the patient’s medical records prior to the consultation taking place.

Use of children (under 16 years old) for interpreting

Children under the age of 16 will not be allowed to interpret for a friend or relative.  If a patient brings a child to interpret for them it will not be facilitated and a professional interpreter will be offered instead.  Even in the case of acute emergencies, staff should only ever use the accompanying child to elicit and communicate basic information e.g. what happened, what the patient’s name is etc.

Confirming a booking

If you wish to confirm that an interpreter has been booked, you should contact the clinic that you will be attending, as they will have facilitated the booking. To help them deal with your enquiry you should provide details of your hospital appointment, your communication requirements and your date of birth.  

Alternatively, you can contact: