Wednesday, 24 June 2020

PQ: 24th June 2020

Personal Protective Equipment - Question
– in the House of Lords at 11:18 am on 24th June 2020.

Baroness Coussins Crossbench
My Lords, the Minister will not be surprised that I want to ask once again about interpreters in the NHS. I appreciate that because of Covid-19 many hospitals are using interpreters by telephone, but there must still be many cases where the physical presence of an interpreter is needed, Covid-related or otherwise. No answer has yet been given to my Written Question of 12 May about who is responsible for providing PPE for interpreters. I would also like to be reassured by the Minister, who I know appreciates the importance of interpreters, that they will not be forgotten when it comes to stockpiling PPE to cope with a possible second wave, when interpreters are likely to be needed more often if the disproportionate level of infection among certain minority groups continues.

Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The noble Baroness is entirely right to emphasise the disproportionate balance of infection among BAME people and the importance of interpreters in ensuring that they get the treatment they deserve. However, we are emphasising the use of telephone services because we want to keep people out of areas of potential infection. That remains part of the service that we deliver, and telephone arrangements are proving extremely effective. However, I take on board her point about providing PPE for those interpreters who are on site, and I will continue to press those in the department who oversee this important area of activity.

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