Davenport House Surgery, Harpenden
Bowers Way
Harpenden
Hertfordshire
AL5 4HX

Booking an Interpreter or Sign Language Interpreter

We aim to provide an equitable service to people from any minority ethnic community encountering language difficulties when accessing our services and those who have difficulty communicating.

On request, we can provide an interpreter who will be vetted by the local health authority. The service uses interpreters working on a sessional basis, plus agencies and can also provide sign language interpreters. All interpreters are trained and must abide by a Confidentiality Code.

Languages:  Sylheti, Pahari, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi (Pakistani or Indian/Sikh version), Gujarati, Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Cantonese, Albanian, Bosnian or Serbo-Croatian, Dari, Tamil, Thai, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Farsi (Persian), Greek, French and Turkish. 

To arrange an appropriate interpreter we will need to confirm with you your preferred language and dialect. If you would prefer an interpreter from a different area please let us know.

We advise patients that:

Children are not used as interpreters for a consultation:  

  • Their understanding and interpreting ability is questionable.  
  • They may miss schooling.  
  • You may not feel able to speak freely through your child.  
  • It may cause long-term damage to your family relationships.

Adult Friends and Relatives:

  • They may have their own agenda.
  • You may or may not feel able to speak freely.
  • The untrained interpreter may add or omit information.
  • They may have difficulty with medical terms.
  • They often have great difficulty or are unable to give bad news

The Interpreter’s Role:-

  • The interpreter will be unaccompanied and wear an ID badge.
  • The interpreter will interpret to the best of their ability neither omitting or adding information and will be impartial.
  • The interpreter will use a range of skills and knowledge in addition to their bilingual ability. They may be able to write down instructions given by the clinician. They will reflect the person’s emotional tone and language register including any inappropriate words such as swearing.
  • The interpreter will introduce him/herself and the clinician to you at the beginning of the session and explain to you that 1) the service is free 2) they are a trained, professional interpreter 3) they are bound by a confidentiality code and 4) they will interpret everything that is said.
  • The interpreter will ask for more information from you and/or the clinician if something is ambiguous or unclear.  
  • Don’t worry if the interpreting is taking longer than expected.  There may not be a directly equivalent word - or concept - in the other language so this may take longer to explain.  The interpreter should let you know when this happens.