£800,000 cost of interpreters
The bill for providing interpreters and information for people using Kettering General Hospital, GPs, the courts, councils and the police has nearly doubled to more than £816,164 in the past two years.
It reflects figures published in April which showed Corby and Northampton were in the top 15 in the country for the number of immigrant workers registering since the enlargement of the European Union. Figures obtained by the Evening Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act show Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust has increased its spending on translation services by more than £164,000 since 2005/06, taking the total to £294,304.
The trust has seen an increase of 61 per cent in interpreting requests to 3,812 in the past 12 months.
A trust spokesman said: “The trust uses the Community Access Language Service.
“This is anything from interpreters to translating medical notes and leaflets.
“The trust is aware that the cost of translations has increased significantly in recent years.”
During the past 12 months the hospital provided interpreters on 889 occasions in a total of 29 different languages.
Hospital chief executive, Dr Mark Newbold, said: “The trust adopts a very common sense approach to interpretation and translation. For example the friends and family of a patient are used to help interpret every day matters such as menu choices or other routine aspects of care.
“We only use interpreters when it is vital that a patient has a good understanding of their condition or injury.”
Northamptonshire Police’s spending on translation services, which it does not receive specific funding for, has risen from £231,359 to £325,941 in two years.
Assistant Chief Constable Derek Talbot said: “We are policing an increasingly diverse community which requires us to use interpreters more and more, both on the telephone and by calling them out to interpret directly.
“This applies equally to people coming into police custody as well as those people who are victims and those needing help.”
Armida Olejniczak, 28, moved to Corby from Poland three years ago and when she first arrived, she couldn’t speak much English.
She said: “We studied English at school for 10 years, but when I came here it was difficult to understand people because of their accents.
“When I went to the doctor, I had to take a dictionary.
“Now a lot of places in Corby have translations in Polish. You can even book and check appointments at my doctor’s surgery in Polish. It’s money well spent.”
Racial equality officer for Kettering Ven Subbarayan said spending money on translators could cut down costs in the long run.
He said: “When problems arise because of misunderstanding, it can cost more.”
A report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research shows 2,330 central and east European workers were registered in Corby between 2004 and 2007. In Northampton there were 14,250 – the highest outside London.
Wellingborough has 1,805 registered, Kettering 750 and East Northamptonshire has 555 immigrant workers in the area.
The total cost of translation services provided by Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough councils, Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust, Kettering General Hospital, Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Magistrates Courts for 2005/2006 (excluding Corby Council) was £456,072, 2006/2007 £538,918 and for 2007/2008 the figure is £816,164.
East Northamptonshire Council could not provide details.