Trying to communicate in a language that is not your mother tongue can be very stressful when you need health care. You have the right to talk about your health in a way that you feel comfortable with.
It's best not to use someone you know as an interpreter. Even a person with excellent English skills may not be able to understand health-related information well. This can create gaps in the information shared and increase the chances of misunderstandings on your healthcare journey.
If you have been admitted to the hospital, please let staff know that you need an interpreter. Let them know what your preferred spoken language is (including dialect) and your preferred written language.
If you need to see another health care provider, such as a GP, let them know as soon as possible that you need an interpreter. It can take up to a day for the healthcare service to book an interpreter but if you need one urgently, ask the service if that would be possible.
For some languages, a professional interpreter can come to an appointment in person. For other languages, professional interpreters are only available on the phone.
Here are some charts you can use to help communicate your language.
- The National Register of Public Service Interpreters has produced a Language Identification Chart(external link) of commonly spoken languages.
- The Refugee Council has also produced a Language Identification Chart(external link) covering 62 different languages for refugees and asylum seekers.