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£1,000-a-week interpreter bill at Musgrove Park Hospital
7:00am Thursday 17th April 2014 in News
ALMOST £1,000 a week is spent on interpreters and translation services at Musgrove Park Hospital.
The total bill for the financial year is likely to be slightly higher than the £45,047 paid out in 2012/13, which was an increase on £18,239 the previous year.
The figures, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, show the languages the service most frequently relies on are Polish, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Russian and Mandarin.
Bosses at the hospital in Taunton say the bill represents a tiny proportion of its annual budget and it has a duty of care to all patients.
The trust running the hospital paid out £39,157 ensuring non-English speaking patients could understand nurses, doctors and consultants in the ten months to the end of January.
A lobby group has called on the hospital to divert some of that spending to staff and equipment.
Commenting on the Musgrove bill, TaxPayers’ Alliance political director Dia Chakravarty said: “The NHS really cannot afford to spend so much of taxpayers’ money on interpreters, especially when times are hard.
“While hospitals will need to provide translators for visitors facing medical emergencies, they cannot be expected to provide day-to-day services in foreign languages.
“Hospitals must do more to cut these costs and instead focus resources on doctors, nurses and medical equipment.”
A Musgrove spokesman said it had a duty of care to make sure that all members of the community can understand information about the hospital’s services and that its patients, clinicians and nursing staff can communicate with each other effectively so that patients receive the best possible care.
They added: “The annual cost of providing this service to our patients represents a small fraction, less than 0.02%, of our annual budget.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said NHS organisations needed to ensure their communities can understand information about services and that patients and clinicians can communicate with each other to ensure patients get the best possible care.
She added: “However, we would encourage trusts to be efficient and save money where possible by working together and sharing resources.”
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