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Hospital spends £296,815 a year on translators

By Carl Jackson | Walsall | Health | Published:

Cash-strapped Walsall Manor Hospital had to fork out more than £250,000 on translators last year – nearly double the amount spent the previous year.

Walsall Manor Hospital

Punjabi, Polish, Arabic and Romanian are among the most commonly requested services although bosses also have to bring in people to perform sign language for deaf patients.

Bengali, Urdu, Slovak, Gujarati and Hungarian are also frequently required.

Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust spend £296,815 on translation services in 2016/17, compared to sums between £153,000 and £157,000 in the three previous years.

Although they said the substantial increase last year included paying invoices for the previous 12 months after the provider for the service changed hands.

Whilst they also stated the translation service is more in demand because it is being promoted more.

A trust spokeswoman said: "The NHS Constitution and the Equality Act (2010) require that healthcare services are accessible to everyone who is eligible to use them, and that no members of the community are disadvantaged.

"It is important that patients understand what it is they are consenting to and any impact or risks involved.

"It is not appropriate for our clinical staff, or patients’ relatives to translate information to or from patients.

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"It is not just issues with languages that lead patients to use the service, we also provide interpreters for people with hearing and sight disabilities."

The trust's overall financial position originally forecasted a £20.5m overspend against its budget this year.

Although the latest performance report reveals they are already off that target by spending £1.872m more than planned in the first six months of the year.

Now they conceded the allocation of funding for translators would have to be 'more in line' with demand.

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In relation to the significant increase in costs in 2016/17 the trust spokeswoman added: "This partly reflects the accounting and invoicing processes from our previous supplier - some of the payments made in the financial year 2016/17 was for work undertaken in 2015/16.

"In response to feedback, we have more widely promoted the service, and so are experiencing increasing demand.

"The data we receive from our new contractor has also helped us identify gaps in the service, which we have been able to address and we are seeing increases in demand in those areas too."

The trust is heading for a £20m black hole against it budget this year.

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson
Reporter - @cjackson_star

Senior reporter for Staffordshire and Walsall.

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