Bridging the language gap

Friday, 8 October 2010

North Bristol NHS Trust has improved its interpreting provision for patients whose first language is not English.

Our new telephone interpreting service was rolled out a year ago and has now received more than 500 calls.

This equates to over 100 hours of interpreting across 42 of the 200 plus languages available.

While face to face interpreting is available for specific circumstances, the Trust has increased its telephone services to provide a greater range of languages and dialects and increased privacy for patients.

The telephone service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week which allows staff to access an interpreter in an emergency situation as well as for routine consultations.

Patients can also now be contacted via telephone by staff with an interpreter on the line.

The benefits of telephone interpretation:

  • Interpreters can be accessed quickly and on demand 24/7
  • Patients can choose if they want their interpreter to be male or female
  • A greater range of languages and more unique dialects are available
  • Patient dignity is maintained as interpreters are not physically present for intimate examinations

A set of guidelines has been developed with patient involvement to allow staff to select the service which is the most appropriate for their patients.