MILLIONS have been spent on interpreters by the five regional health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland over the past few years, Health Minister Edwin Poots has revealed.
In the Western Trust, which covers areas such as Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane, £797,181 was spent on interpreter fees in a five year period from 2007 to 2012.
Altogether, a total of £8,206,285 was spent in Northern Ireland on interpreter fees by the five regional health trusts and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service combined across five years from 2007 to 2012.
The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety added that there is a legal obligation to provide interpreter services, saying: “All Health and Social Care Trusts are legally obliged to provide interpreters to patients and clients in Northern Ireland who do not speak English as a first or second proficient language.”
In the Western Trust, in the financial year 2011/12, £196,299 was spent on interpreter fees, with £166,239 spent in 2010/11 and £172,699 spent in 2009/10. In 2008/09 £121,192 was spent on interpreter fees and £140,752 was spent in 2007/08.
Altogether, £797,181 has been spent on interpreter fees in the Western Health and Social Care Trust in a five-year period from 2007 to 2012.
Across Northern Ireland, £2,047,964 was spent on interpreter fees in 2011/12, £1,926,245 was spent in 2010/11, £1,752,245 in 2009/10, £1,292,419 in 2008/09 and £1,187,412 in 2007/08 – giving a total spend on interpreters in excess of £8 million.
In the nearby Northern Trust, which covers the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine as well as a host of other hospitals in Northern Ireland, £293,372 was spent in 2011/12, £295,496 in 2010/11, £334,437 in 2009/10, £240,920 in 2008/09 and £229,881 in 2007/08.
Across the five year period from 2007 to 2012, a total of £1,394,106 was spent on interpreter fees in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
Minister Poots had been asked to provide the figures by Ulster Unionist Party MLA Ross Hussey, who asked: “How much each Health and Social Care Trust has spent on interpreter Fees in each of the last five years; and whether Trusts are legally obliged to offer interpreters?”