An interpreter is a person who provides an oral translation between speakers who speak different languages.

There are three main health interpreter service options in Dunedin

  • Southern DHB Face to face interpreters (now available for health services in the community)

  • Telephone Interpreting Services

  • CAB Language Link

The following reading and resources are strongly encouraged before using interpreters for the first time.

How to use interpreters in general practice: the development of a New Zealand toolkit

Cole’s medical practice in New Zealand

Online training for health practitioners working with interpreters (eCALD module 4)

When deciding whether to use an interpreter, refer to the MCNZ considerations outlined in the Coles Medical Practice. Considerations include:

  • Complexity of anticipated clinical content

  • Language ability of the patient

  • Language ability of available ad hoc interpreter

  • Degree of ethical risk: e.g. is the patient vulnerable with mental health issues?

  • Is the available ad hoc interpreter a child?

  • Does the available ad hoc interpreter have a position of power over the patient?

  • Sensitivity of clinical content: e.g. gynaecology, family discord

  • Legal need for informed consent

  • Urgency of presentation: in emergency use the best available

  • Wishes of the patient

  • Ability to pay for an interpreter

It is also important to consider the degree of need for the context of the consult (i.e. consent for a major medical procedure versus a repeat prescription for a long term medication.