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Hospital interpreter services

​How do I request an interpreter?

If your GP refers you for a hospital appointment, ask them to request an interpreter in their referral.

When you get your hospital appointment in the post, call the telephone number on your letter as early as possible to inform us that you will need an interpreter. Be aware that the people who answer the phone will speak English, so you may need someone to help you talk to them.

If you arrive at the hospital without an appointment (eg in an emergency), tell staff as soon as you arrive that you will need an interpreter.

What if I need to cancel my appointment?

If you need to cancel your appointment, and so do not need an interpreter, let us know as soon as possible. Be aware that the people who answer the phone will speak English, so you may need someone to help you talk to them.

Can I use the same interpreter at all of my appointments?

We are unable to guarantee that you will have the same interpreter at any future appointments.

What happens if an interpreter is unavailable?

Sometimes a face-to-face interpreter is not available and an interpreter may speak to you over the phone.

During evenings (after 5pm), weekends and bank holidays, a telephone interpreter will be used.

What can I expect from an interpreter?

During your appointment, the interpreter will:

  • accurately interpret everything that is said to the best of their ability, without leaving anything out or adding anything in 
  • only interpret what has been said whilst the health or social care professional is present
  • not become personally involved in any discussions, or offer any opinions
  • treat all information as confidential

What should I do when using an interpreter?

During your appointment, you should:

  • only say what you want to be interpreted
  • imagine the interpreter is not there and speak directly to the health or social care professional clearly and in small chunks
  • say everything that needs to be interpreted whilst the health or social care professional is present, and not while you're alone with the interpreter. The interpreter cannot help or give advice
  • not give any form of reward (cash, gift, favour or hospitality) to the  interpreter as they are working for and paid by Health and Social Services
  • not contact the interpreter directly. Do not give them your personal details. They are not able to give you theirs
  • ask questions. Do not be afraid to say if you do not understand something
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