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Shropshire hospitals spend £100,000 on translators

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More than £100,000 has been spent on providing translators to patients at Shropshire's two main hospitals in the past two-and-a-half years, new figures have revealed.

A Freedom of Information request by the Shropshire Star has shown the amount being spent on translators at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital has been increasing since 2011. A total of £28,256 was spent in 2011/12, rising by more than 50 per cent to £42,905 in 2012/13.

And last year's total was almost matched in the first six months of the current financial year, with £37,587 spent between April and the end of October.

It means the county's NHS trust has paid out more than £108,000 for the delivery of translation services since April 2011.

Translators are paid £20 per hour plus travel expenses by the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

Services are available to non-English speakers who are concerned about being able to understand what they are being told by hospital staff. In 2011/12, there were 313 requests for translation services, rising to 423 in the last financial year.

In the first six months of this year, 376 requests have already been recorded.

A statement from the trust said that within those figures, there could be cases of the same patient using translation services for different appointments.

It added: "The trust does not have a specific policy for deciding on whether a translator is required. Decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis, and usually at the request of the patient."

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Graeme Mitchell, associate director of patient quality and experience at the trust, said: "Making sure our patients are able to communicate with our staff and understand and be involved with their treatment plan is an essential part of providing their care."

In October, a report commissioned by the Department of Health said visitors and short-term migrants who are in England for less than a year were costing the NHS between £1.5 billion to £1.9 billion per year.

A separate group of "health tourists" – people travelling to the UK with the deliberate intention of obtaining free healthcare to which they are not entitled – were estimated to be costing the NHS between £100 million and £300 million.

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