It is your right to have a professional interpreter help you at every stage of your healthcare journey. It is the responsibility of your healthcare provider to arrange an interpreter for you.  

The NHS has a legal responsibility to make sure that the services they provide are equally accessible to all sections of the community. Guidance to services also makes clear that a professional interpreter should always be offered where language is an issue in discussing health matters. 

Tell the NHS service you are seeing that you need an interpreter when booking an appointment. You will normally have to give the service at least 48 hours notice to give them time to find an appropriate interpreter.

You should never have to pay for language interpretation services.  

You have a right to expect that the NHS provides timely interpretation support. Additional time should be provided at appointments when an interpreter is required.  

Your healthcare worker should also record in your healthcare record:  

  • your preferred spoken language (including dialect)  
  • your preferred written language   
  • whether you require an interpreter.  

This information should be passed on when you get a referral to other health or social care services.  

NHS services

How to register with a GP

A General Practitioner (or GP) provides what is called primary care. 

Find out more

Getting a referral

When you need specialist NHS support, like hospital tests or treatment, you often need a referral from your GP first. 

Find out more

Getting urgent or emergency care

If you need quick help for a medical problem, there are different routes depending on whether the issue is an emergency or urgent.

Find out more

How do I get a dentist appointment?

Many people are struggling to get dentist appointments.

Find out more

How a pharmacy can help

Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for various minor illnesses. 

Find out more

Using the NHS app

You can access a range of NHS services from your smartphone, tablet and other devices using the NHS app.

Find out more