Language barriers and access to healthcare in Norfolk

Healthwatch Norfolk, in common with some other Healthwatch around the country, were asked to look at the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) to find out how accessible information is for those needing and receiving care. As part of this, we heard from patients who were struggling as they spoke little or no English. Although this was not part of the AIS at the time of doing the research, we were so concerned about the issue we completed a separate study and report into this.

Based on what we found, our recommendations are:
1. GP surgeries and hospitals should ensure they are providing adequate and appropriate translation services so that patients are receiving the same quality of care regardless of communication needs. This should include recording on patient notes any communication barriers and preferences.
2. All health and social care providers have a process in place for the above and that all staff are trained on the process.
Of particular concern were the instances of people being denied translation services even when requested. Consequently, our final recommendation is as follows:
3. If a patient requests translation services, they should be provided with them. It’s not for staff to decide if the translation services are necessary

I asked for the interpreter because of the terms being used. But then they asked how many years I’d lived here and when I said, they said that with so many years here I should be able to be without. So, I didn’t get one.

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