All patients and their carers who are not fluent in English, including people who are deaf, have the right to free, confidential and professional interpreters with SMDCC. The need to understand and be understood is fundamental to safe and effective health care.
Why Is It Important To Use A Professional Interpreter?
It is always best to use professional interpreters when important information is being discussed. Family and friends should only be used in emergencies, or to interpret for non-essential care. This is because health interpreters are trained in medical terminology and are bound by a code of conduct that requires them to relate information accurately and in full.
Family and friends may leave out or change information for a number of reasons. Some examples are: to protect their relative, because they are embarrassed, overwhelmed, they don’t understand or they are unsure how to phrase it in their language. Many patients and carers who speak English as a second language may not need an interpreter, but should be aware that the stress associated with their illness, injury and the unfamiliarity of a hospital can affect language skills, particularly if the person has learnt English recently.
How Can I Book An Interpreter?
Health staff are responsible for arranging interpreters for patients and carers. You can contact the health interpreting services directly, but it is best to ask your doctor or nurse to do it because health staff will be given priority by the services. Health Care Interpreter Service can be contacted at 02 4274 4211 8:30am-5pm on weekdays.
Non-English speakers who need to speak to English speakers can phone the Translation and Interpreter Service at 131 450 and tell the operator the language they speak. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.