NHS Lanarkshire translation costs soar (Scotland)

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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
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French to English
+ ...
Wisdom (?) of signing contracts with agencies Apr 7, 2011

I don't know what NHS Lanarkshire's arrangements are, but I wonder whether they're getting the best deal they could be. Signing contracts with agencies is the direction many public institutions here have been moving in over the last few years, with reduced costs being one of the arguments relied on, but to take one example: Derbyshire police have been paying £134 per 1,000 words for translations to Cintra since April 2010 (this information was posted on the Internet in answer to a Freedom of Information request). If they cut out the middleman and deal with freelancers directly, they could save a lot of money; in the meantime, police forces are currently laying off staff because of budget reductions. The lower rates now paid to qualified interpreters have driven some to boycott agencies (as happened to ALS in Greater Manchester) and others to leave the profession, which will reduce the supply of interpreters; yet the government argues that agencies had to be brought in as a solution to the problem of interpreter shortages. Where, oh where, is the logic?

[Edited at 2011-04-07 23:34 GMT]


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 05:24
Spanish to English
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Lies, damned lies, and statistics* Apr 8, 2011

A couple of minutes of web browsing reveals that Lanarkshire (North and South together) has about a total population of 633,046 corresponding to 12.3% of the whole of Scotland (GROS 2004 Population estimates and projections - http://www.lanarkshire.com/demographics-labour-market/ ).

Armed with that knowledge, let’s look again at the “Wishaw Press” report:

In 2010, says the report, Lanarkshire health services spent “a whopping” £157,000 on translating English for foreign nationals. Hmmm... that’s less than a "whopping" 25p per head of population per year.

And it is less than one third of Lanarkshire’s ‘fair share’ of the total for Scotland, which would be 12.3% of £4,000,000 (the total for the Scottish NHS in 2010), or £492,000. And that despite the fact that Lanarkshire borders directly on the major industrial city of Glasgow – the source of work for many of those in the Lanarkshire health service’s capture area – which would tend to make the proportion of the Lanarkshire population who are not native English speakers disproportionately large in comparison most other parts of the country.

The report lists Chinese, Cantonese, Punjabi, Polish and British Sign Language as some of the languages Lanarkshire has had to fork out for. No surprises there, except to note that BSL is by no means a foreign language and that one hour of BSL interpretation costs at least twice as much as one hour of Chinese or Polish (see http://www.proz.com/post/1679056#1679056 ).

One can but wonder whether the majority of beneficiaries of this “whopping” interpretation budget aren’t in fact Scottish nationals whose native language is BSL with a heavy glaswegian accent.

MediaMatrix

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:24
Member (2007)
French to English
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NHS Lanarkshire should set up its own bank of interpreters and translators Apr 8, 2011

Hi,

Well, although this only happened a year ago, Portsmouth NHS Hospitals Trust set up its own bank of interpreters and translators, cutting out the high costs of agencies and helping to reduce the NHS budget overall. You would have thought that Wishaw would be conctacing other NHS bodies to see how they can be more efficient in their expenditure.

Liz Askew


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Tomoyuki Kono  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:24
Member (2010)
English to Japanese
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consultancy next Apr 8, 2011

Let me guess: under pressure from public scrutiny, they will then pay thousands of pounds and appoint management consultants to look into possible ways of cost cutting in this area, who will then report exactly what you wrote.

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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:24
Member (2007)
French to English
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You're dead right Tomoyuki Apr 8, 2011

Yes, this is the frustrating part of bureaucracy! Such a lot of time and energy on such simple matters.
Not only that, they probably wouldn't "consult" the people who matter, i.e. patients of the NHS and the interpreters and translators.
Liz

[Edited at 2011-04-08 14:39 GMT]


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:24
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English to Hungarian
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News about the status of the National Register (UK)? Apr 11, 2011

Peter Shortall wrote:

The lower rates now paid to qualified interpreters have driven some to boycott agencies (as happened to ALS in Greater Manchester) and others to leave the profession, which will reduce the supply of interpreters;


Yes, detailed information about the status of the National Agreement, the position of the Ministry of Justice and the fight of interpreters in the National Register would be of great interest to freelancers. I also find the claim of "whopping sum" completely unfounded in the present news item.

Best,
Attila

[Edited at 2011-04-11 14:38 GMT]


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
Member
French to English
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National Register Apr 11, 2011

Attila Piróth wrote:

Yes, detailed information about the status of the National Agreement, the position of the Ministry of Justice and the fight of interpreters in the National Register would be of great interest to freelancers. I also find the claim of "whopping sum" completely unfounded in the present news item.

Best,
Attila


I don't know much about what's been happening lately, but you might find these two articles interesting (I tried to submit them as separate threads, but they haven't been posted thus far):

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/350000-bill-for-interpreter-who-made-email-slur.htm

http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1410082_police_rip_up_contract_with_interpreter_agency_after_claims_it_was_hampering_investigations

It seems to me that if the new government wants to make spending cuts that will actually make people happy for a change, the NHS, police and courts could go back to the old system of working directly with freelancers. That should reduce the "whopping amount" spent on interpreting, and help both freelancers and public service users at the same time. Any decision-makers out there listening...?


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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:24
French to English
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@ Peter Apr 11, 2011

Thank you Peter - interesting articles (haven't had time to read all the comments added!)

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NHS Lanarkshire translation costs soar (Scotland)

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