Using interpreters to access health and social care support in Oxfordshire

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Summary of report content

In June 2021, Healthwatch Oxfordshire launched two surveys to gather views on using interpreting services when accessing and using NHS health and care. This was as a result of what they heard from local communities and within local meetings, about interpreting services, as well as about a related topic - the lack of accessible information in different languages about health and care, and particularly during COVID-19.

They heard from 97 people – 34 health professionals and 63 service users and analysed a further 30 additional comments from people through their ongoing conversations with communities. The 34 health and care professionals who responded represented a variety of organisations including: hospital, community health services, maternity and mental health services; local authority, GPs as well as a range of voluntary sector groups.

Of 63 responses, Oxfordshire Chinese Community and Advice Centre (OCCAC) gave proactive support in reaching 33 members of the Chinese community with the survey. As a result, over half of the responses of service users came from this community and thus had an impact on findings.

However, despite this, common themes emerged across all responses and comments, and help to shed light on common experiences.

People had mixed awareness about the availability of interpreter services.  Not everyone was offered an interpreter when booking an appointment.

Overall people were happy with the quality of interpreting support they received. Health and care professionals told us that overall they were satisfied with the quality of interpreting service support they received.   Issues identified included:

  • Availability for appropriate language, dialect, and gender
  • Some barriers with administration whilst booking an interpreter
  • Responses from the hospital sector indicated some frustration over use of equipment - reach and signal, ease of use, training and operation, for supporting interpreters. Whilst much progress has been made in some services, for example in providing headsets for maternity services, comments indicated there are still some improvements to be made.

The report includes 5 recommendations.

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General details

Report title 
Using interpreters to access health and social care support in Oxfordshire
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Oxfordshire
Date of publication 
Monday, 14 March, 2022
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 June, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Wednesday, 30 June, 2021
Key themes 
Health inequalities
Information providing
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
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
Secondary care services 
Inpatient care
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Social care services 
Adult social care
Urgent and emergency care services 
NHS 111

Details about conditions and diseases

What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
16-17 years
18-24 years
25-64 years
65-85 years
85 +
Asian / Asian British
Black/ African / Caribbean / Black British
Mixed / multiple ethnic groups
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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
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.