When it comes to providing proper and efficient medical care to patients, translation and interpreting services are very critical especially for the case involving parties speaking different languages. If patient and the doctor cannot understand each other then without an interpreter treatment cannot go any further. If it does some negative outcomes may be realized which may be a threat to life.
Here in UK the number of immigrants is increasing by leaps and abounds yet majority of them cannot speak English which necessitates the provision of translation services in almost all social institutions such as hospitals and schools among others. This has resulted to many social institutions realizing persistent increase in the cost of translation services as the demand is alarming.
The BBC inside Out found that Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust spent nearly £500,000 on interpreting in 2013/14. The interview with Giles Matesell, from the Trust revealed to the BBC that Polish was the most frequently translated language with the biggest budget registered in community midwifery. Providing translation services or patients is not a concern as such but the concern is in the increasing budget in providing these services to non English speakers. For example on the financial year 2009/10, the hospital spent £173,877 which is costly. According to BBC Mr Matsell, the trust’s head of quality and diversity, said: “It is a major concern for us now. We have seen an increase of over £100,000 in the past 12 months”
Many hospitals that BBC visited said the impact of non-English speakers is a challenge for staff especially in acute situations. The hospitals are now trying to devise ways of reducing the cost by using staff as emergency volunteers. “We’re trying to develop a model where we’re using staff as emergency volunteers where they’re accredited with the language the patient requires, so they are there and available and obviously the cost is reduced for us.” Matsell told BBC
According to BBC, ”The University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust spent £382,305 on interpreting in 2013/14 and it cost Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust £450,920”
Anneli Wynn Davies who works as a consultant neonatologist at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Center told BBC that it had become difficult for him.”It’s very difficult and it’s very frustrating” he said. He further stressed that “The biggest challenges are in acute situations where we need to be able to translate sometimes life and death situations with parents in an instantaneous way.”
The BBC also interviewed a Polish speaker Karolina KLima who told them that she had to communicate with a doctor via translation software on a laptop while giving birth to her daughter Maya at 23 weeks at the Queens Medical Centre. “He explained to me that I could probably give birth at any time but it would most likely be a still birth.”I was so helpless. It was so hard and difficult for me,” Klima told the BBC.
Karolina’s fears of a still birth were averted, however, and she has now been found a volunteer translator as she visits her daughter on the neonatal unit.
Government-funded English language courses can help the situation but there are waiting lists in the East Midlands region.
According to the BBC, Lord Ahmed, communities’ minister, said: “My department provides over £6m to introductory language pilots that we’re doing up and down the country.” “At a time of more scarce resources we ensure that funding is focussed on those people who are actively seeking jobs.”