Thursday, 16 August 2012

Translation service cost NHS £23m per annum

Research from Health2020 has revealed some facts behind the costs of translation for the NHS – as well as some of the real life stories behind the facts. Translation companies such as Convocco Ltd have helped organisations like the NHS to reduce the overall costs as a % of their annual budget.

The headline figures from the survey included:

·         Trusts spent £23.3 million pounds on translation services last year.
·         The NHS has spent £64.4 million on translation services in the last three financial years, a £9.4 million (17%) increase from 2007/8 – 2009/10.
·         This amount equates to £59k per day.
·         London Trusts comprised only 15% of the Trusts surveyed, but were responsible for 31% of the total spend.
·         45% of Trusts could not break down the cost of written translation.

An important factor in the need for translation services provided by companies like Convocco is the growing diversity of the population. As a spokesperson for Barts hospital stated “The Trust serves areas with more than 140 languages spoken so offering access to an interpreter is a crucial part of assisting patients whose first language is not English”

Effective translation services can actually have an effect on the health and mortality of the communities served by NHS hospitals and Trusts. Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups historically have poorer health than the overall population, and higher morbidity and mortality in disadvantaged groups and areas are key drivers of poor average outcomes for cervical, colorectal and breast cancer. Though there are a variety of socio-economic and cultural contributors to health inequalities, good communication is a critical factor in improving patient education and access to services, which play a major role in narrowing the health gap.

Translating leaflets and arranging for clinics and prevention activities to non-English speakers in these communities can help save lives – and translation organisations like Convocco can help by managing all the required translation services required: from written translations through to face-to-face translations. Translation services are not limited to telephone-based work only.

Overall costs appear not to be increasing over the last two years, which indicates they are falling as an overall percentage of the NHS budget. The cost of written translations has fallen noticeably –as demonstration that a competitive translation market has brought benefits to the public sector.

Translation can be hard work at DWP

The Department of Work and Pensions has revealed that its translation services covers over 165 different languages. Non-English speakers can use the service when dealing with the services that the Department offer.

Translation services is a booming sector with companies like Convocco Ltd offering a wide range of services to both the public sector and to private business who deal with non-English speaking markets in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.

The DWP’s official papers reveal that in 2011 it used interpreters over 271, 695 in a 12 month period – largely using the services of translators over the telephone or at face-to-face meetings. Perhaps unsurprisingly Czech and Polish were the most utilised languages. There are estimated to be over half a million Poles living and working in the UK.

The DWP can call on the services of translation companies such as Convocco in a number of different ways depending on the particular circumstance. Instant access telephone interpreting has become the no1 method over recent years, but face-to-face translations have an important role for more structured and intensive interviews and reviews.

Translation services like Convocco can help

Not all languages are equally popular of course. Not a single person used the service provided for Basque, Catalan, Tongan or Nigerian Pidgin and it was a thin year for translators of French Canadian and Icelandic as the DWP only called upon there services once in the whole of the year. Using translation companies like Convocco has meant that Government and Local Authorities can actually streamline their translation service and become more cost-effective despite the growing demands of an increasingly diverse population. Indeed the DWP expects translation costs to fall by 30%

And while over quarter of a million translation calls might seem a lot to the outsider, the DWP actually deals with over 15 million people who are claiming pensions, benefits or use its other services.

The report revealed the Top 10 translated languages were:

·         Polish
·         Slovak
·         Czech
·         Urdu
·         Portuguese 
·         Punjabi
·         Spanish
·         Arabic
·         Russian
·         Bengali

With such a diverse range of speakers requiring translation services organisations like Convocco are constantly looking for a wide range of translators. Translation is a skill, and native speakers of the language don’t always make good translators.