Interpreting and translation in primary care

NHS England has worked with professionals and the public to work out what good quality interpreting (spoken word or British Sign Language (BSL)) and translation (written word or braille transcription) services look like.

Focus groups took place in 2015 and the output of these discussions was a draft set of Principles for Interpreting and Translation Services. In 2016 and 2017 the draft principles were revised and incorporated in to guidance for commissioners. Although written with primary medical care services (GP surgeries) in mind, commissioners may find the contents applicable to other settings, such as other primary care settings or hospital sites

You may want to look at NHS England’s accessible information standard page. In the context of this project, the accessible information standard sets out the NHS’s obligations around providing information in an accessible format for people who use BSL and braille.

How NHS contractors can access translation and interpretation services for patients

If you are a primary care contractor wishing to access translation or interpretation services for your patient, please note that NHS England do not hold contact details for translation and interpreting services. These are commissioned locally either via your integrated care board (ICB) or your regional NHS England primary care commissioning team. We would always suggest reaching out to your local ICB in the first instance.

For further information, please contact the GP Commissioning Team.

Becoming an interpreter

It is also worth noting that there aren’t any arrangements in place to accept applications for interpreters in NHS England.

Ordinarily interpreter services are commissioned by NHS organisations to third party translation and interpretation services via commercial frameworks, such as on the Crown Commercial Services site. We would always signpost people wishing to become an interpreter for the NHS, to contact one of the organisations listed on the commercial frameworks.