When the client doesn't want an interpreter?
Thread poster: nkthorneLeedsMe
Apr 3, 2013

Just had a phonecall from a friend who is acting as a legal guardian for a foreign student in the UK. She took this student to the doctor last week, and acted as her interpreter as she speaks the student's language. It was a very difficult and embarrassing subject, and whilst my friend remained as impartial as possible, at one point she did become more involved in looking after the foreign student.

Due to the nature of the doctor visit, the foreign student was adamant that she did not want an interpreter (external to my friend) and told this to the doctor. On the follow-up visit the doctor has requested an interpreter. My friend is happy with this as it takes some of the pressure off of her and does allow her to act as a legal guardian rather than an impartial interpreter, but the student may not be and it may cause issues. I've had a look online, but I can't seem to find anything that specifies the legalities regarding interpreters when the client has refused one. Anyone got any resources they could share?


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Chinese to English
Can't force anyone to do anything... Apr 3, 2013

I'm not sure what you mean by "legalities", but in general, the law is not the way to resolve a situation like this, and the law will never be able to force someone to use an interpreter.

It's pretty hard to understand the situation, and I know you have to be circumspect, but it sounds like what they really need is a change of doctor. If something happened during a visit to a doctor that necessitated your friend "looking after" her charge, then the doctor wasn't doing it right! It's OK ask for another doctor - they won't (shouldn't!) be offended.


NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:36
Portuguese to English
There may well be a doctor who speaks their language… Apr 3, 2013

What about calling the embassy and asking for a list of doctors? They may well have someone on file who speaks the language and it would do away with the need for an interpreter all together.


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