21 February 2015
Islington doctors slammed after only one GP offers translation services across the borough
Doctors’ surgeries have been criticised after only one in the whole borough offered translation services in an undercover sting.
In a study by Healthwatch Islington, volunteers went to all 36 GP surgeries pretending to be new patients who did not speak English.
Just one - St Peter’s Street Medical Practice, in Islington - offered an interpreter.
The rest had no help at all, and 19 told them to come back with a friend or relative who could speak English.
The watchdog said they have received reports from community groups saying support isn’t provided once registered.
A spokesman for the IMECE Women’s Centre, which works with Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot women who are often refugees, said: “This is a huge issue for our community and for women in particular, especially in domestic violence cases where the husband and the husband’s family can control the domestic violence survivor through the interpreting.
“GPs are a very important contact for women, so it is important to ensure that women are able to speak directly to this health professional.”
Gill Tan of the Islington Chinese Association said: “Our clients are told to bring a friend or relative to interpret for them at the doctor’s.
“Their sons and daughters find it difficult to take time off work to accompany and interpret for them. Our clients feel like a burden, so they don’t ask their children, they suffer in silence.”
Emma Whitby of Healthwatch Islington said: “Interpreting services are available to all GP practices in the borough, at no cost to individual practices. Face to face interpreting needs to be booked in advance, but telephone interpreting is available more or less immediately. We’d like to see all practices use these services whenever there is a need.”