Lost in translation: feedback on Arabic interpreting and translation services in Gateshead

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Gateshead undertook research into people’s experience of interpreting services for health care after hearing negative feedback on this issue. During February 2020 they gathered the views of 148 people who spoke Arabic.

Interpreters were offered most frequently at GP practices.  Pharmacies were least likely to offer interpreters. The survey respondents gave an overall rating of 3.9 stars out of 5 for ease of booking interpreters. Despite the majority highly rating the booking process, there were contradictory comments, including lack of Arabic (Syrian dialect) interpreters, long waiting times for appointments with an interpreter and having to rely on support workers in emergencies.

The overall rating was 4.1 stars for the quality of service people received. Again, people raised issues including interpreters having weak ‘Arabic language’ skills, interpreter punctuality and reliability, not receiving the requested gender of interpreter and using the phone services with a hearing impairment.

Translation services had 3.7 stars for receiving services in the correct language. Despite a relatively high rating, there were some negative comments including people sometimes having to use Google Translate for NHS letters and translated documents not being accurate.

There were 7 recommendations to improve awareness of and quality of interpreting services.

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General details

Report title 
Lost in translation: feedback on Arabic interpreting and translation services in Gateshead
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Gateshead
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 1 July, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Saturday, 1 February, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 29 February, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Other information of note about this report 
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Community pharmacy
Dentist (non-hospital)
GP practice
Optometry services
Secondary care services 
Inpatient care
Urgent and emergency care services 
Accident & emergency

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Other ethnic group
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Other population characteristics 
Refugees or asylum seekers
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.