Rain

Rain

max temp: 19°C

min temp: 13°C

Search

Bury St Edmunds: Hospital’s interpreters bill revealed

PUBLISHED: 17:18 20 November 2012

West Suffolk Hospital has spent nearly £300,000 in the past three years on providing interpreters for patients.

West Suffolk Hospital has spent nearly £300,000 in the past three years on providing interpreters for patients.

Archant

ALMOST £300,000 has been spent on providing interpreters for non-English speaking patients attending West Suffolk Hospital during the past three years, the EADT can reveal.

Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show the Bury St Edmunds-based hospital has paid out £96,469 in the past year alone on translating services. This is compared to Ipswich Hospital, which spent just £14,424 on similar services during the same period.

Most of Suffolk’s hospitals provide translation services via an agency and do not employ interpreters directly. West Suffolk’s translators are employed by CINTRA – one of the UK’s leading translation providers to the public and private sectors.

Last night, a spokesman for the hospital defended the budget for the service, which he said “fulfilled a duty” under the Race Relations and Equality Acts to ensure everyone had equal access to the hospital’s facilities.

The interpreting bill at West Suffolk has remained consistently high during the past three years, with a spend of £93,225 in 2009/10 followed by £99,631 in 2010/11.

The spokesman said: “The amount hospitals spend on translation services varies greatly depending on the diversity of the local population. We are committed to providing the best possible value for money on behalf of our patients and constantly review all of our budgets to look for ways to further improve efficiency.”

WSH could not provide data for the number of patients who required their interpreting service during a year, and none of the hospital trusts contacted by the EADT were able to confirm the average salary or fee paid for an interpreter.

A spokesman for Ipswich Hospital said they used the independently-run Ipswich-based Translation and Interpreting Project (TIP) to provide face-to-face interpreters when required. TIP was part of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality until budget cuts forced a split this April.

The £14,424 spent at Ipswich Hospital this year also includes British Sign Language translation for deaf patients according to the spokesman, who added: “Previous years’ budgets have been £24,340 per year and we have successfully reduced this by the improved and appropriate use of Language Line (which provides an over-the-phone translation service), which can be used where clinically appropriate.”

Another of the county’s hospitals, James Paget in Gorleston, paid out £71,520 for interpreters between 2011/12 – a rise from the $52,242 they spent between 2009/10.

The hospital confirmed that between January 2010 and the following year, interpreters had been required for 109 outpatient appointments and 57 inpatient stays. During that period the bill for providing the service was £58,104.

The West Suffolk Hospital spokesman said it was “essential for the safety” of all patients that hospital staff could communicate with them accurately and effectively, especially when discussing diagnosis or treatment options. He concluded: “Ensuring our patients are receiving reliable information which is easy to understand is also vital in gaining their consent before their treatment begins.

“We provide translation through a telephone system wherever possible. However, in certain circumstances, such as breaking bad news or discussing sensitive subjects, we feel it is more appropriate to offer a face-to-face service using qualified interpreters who are trained in medical terminology.”

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Rail passengers in Suffolk are advised to check before they travel as engineering works are due to start on the Ipswich to Lowestoft line for nine days from July 29.

Charities backed by Ipswich mayor Sarah Barber have been boosted by £370 after a special curry night at the Maharani restaurant in Norwich Road.

Check out our list of dog friendly beaches so your four legged friend doesn’t have to miss out on the family outing.

Kesgrave Library was buzzing with activity on Sunday morning as the Summer Reading Challenge was launched with a special Minion Morning.

Center Parcs has apologised for disruption caused to holidaymakers who were evacuated from shops, restaurants and a swimming pool at its Elveden resort after a customer reported overhearing someone mention a suspect device.

An RAF Voyager tanker plane and two RAF Lakenheath-based F15 fighter jets came within seconds of disaster over the North Sea after a flight controller was distracted by a phone call, according to an official report.

Actor Toby Jones and Elbow front man Guy Garvey have been singing the praises of Suffolk, where they have both been based during the filming of the Detectorists television show.

Pupils’ love for reading has been “re-energised” and writing and other standards are also improving at a Suffolk primary school, Ofsted has said.

Beer festival organisers have chosen to raise money for a family support charity.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24