Improving the quality of interpreting in primary care

We are reviewing how patients who are Deaf or do not speak English as a first language, use interpreting services so they can access the best care and information. To achieve this, we will engage with those patients so we can articulate what a good quality service looks like.

North of England Commissioning Support (NECS)t with support from University of Manchester SORD – Social Research with Deaf people) and Education Partnerships UK/Trescom (for community/spoken languages) will, with NHS England, facilitate the co-production of a set of principles with patients and clinicians which, when implemented will help to ensure that we reduce health inequalities in primary care settings.

Project initiation document

This document sets out the reason for the project.


Our regular briefings are below, to update anyone interested in the work.


Focus groups for community languages have taken place for the following groups:

  • Elderly (mainly individuals with long term health issues and disabilities) South East Asian Men in Bradford (Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati and Pushto speakers), 25 February 2015
  • Pattan women (mixed age) in Bradford. (Pushto speakers), 30 February 2015
  • Indian Women in Leicester (Gujarati and Hindi speakers), 28 February 2015
  • Polish (mixed gender and age) in Leicester (Polish speakers), 28 February 2015
  • Chinese Elderly group in Newcastle (Hakka speakers), 1 March 2015
  • Slovakian Roma group in Bradford (mixed gender and age), 7 March 2015
  • Bangladeshi group in Rochdale (mixed gender), 10 March 2015
  • Punjabi speaking women (group interviews) in Birmingham, 11 and 12 March 2015
  • Refugee group in the North West region, 18 March 2015.
  • Somali Community Organisation, at Finsbury Park, London, 19 March 2015
  • Daymer Community Organisation (Turkish and Kurdish), at Bruce Grove, London, 21 March 2015
  • Other one to one Interviews in London
  • Various groups in Brighton, 22 March 2015

Focus groups for Deaf people have taken place at the following venues:

  • Manchester Conference Centre on 11 March 2015
  • Gloucestershire Deaf Association on 13 March 2015
  • Community House, Bromley (London) on 17 March 2015
  • Derby Deaf Club on 18 March 2015

Emerging themes

From a wide study of reports on quality interpreting, and from the focus groups we have carried out, some of the emerging themes we have found are below:

  • Seamless services – a need for a streamlined, easy to access, flexible and cost-effective ITS
  • Knowing how to use – a need for more clarity on how the ITS provision works and how to book assignments
  • Principles – need to address issues such as:
    • Confidentiality in the client – interpreter relationship
    • Understanding by the interpreter of the confidential relationship between client and patient
    • Understanding the ethics and standards of the health sector
    • Use of qualified interpreters rather than members of family and friends
    • Professional qualifications for interpreters, sector-specific training, continuous professional training /continuous professional development
  • Contracting arrangements – a need for contracts/service level agreements with providers to explicitly describe sub-contracting arrangements, payment schedules, management fees and fair rates of pay for interpreters
  • Training – a need for awareness and  training for professional, practice staff and clinician on the ITS
  • Training on health benefits – overall a need for improved awareness of the potential impact on the patient’s health if ITS is not used as necessary

The themes have been used to develop a draft Principles Framework for Interpreting and Translation Services.

The draft Principles Framework will be used to develop service specifications and commission models for delivering quality interpreting services. It is currently in draft and being shared with the stakeholder and steering group for the project.

Survey for clinicians

In developing the new principles for interpreting and translation services in primary care it is important to gather the views and feedback on how clinicians through robust interpreting and translation systems will improve the services they provide and support their duty of care to BSL users and non-English speakers.