Deaf patients access to NHS appointments at risk from failing contracts.

By nubsli-dev | Published on 14 March 2017

Last week it was announced that Pearl Linguistics, who held many of the NHS contracts for British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreting, has gone into liquidation. This will be of concern to Deaf patients all over the UK who rely on BSL/English interpreters to access their appointments.

The National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI), a branch of Unite, have been raising issues around sustainability and the use of framework agreements since February 2015. Attempts by agencies to drive down fees, terms and conditions to unviable levels have already seen interpreters boycott LanguageLine Solutions (LLS), another provider of interpreting within healthcare settings.
BSL/English Interpreters, who are highly trained and skilled professionals, simply cannot afford to accept 30 – 40% cuts to their fees.

Contracts taken under Crown Commercial Services (CCS), NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) frameworks do not offer value for money and are often leaving Deaf people without interpreters as bookings go unfulfilled. Pearl Linguistics going into liquidation highlights the problems with privatisation and demonstrate that local provision and booking interpreters directly are the best way forward.

What you can do?

Good BSL/English interpreters want Deaf people to complain to the register if there is a problem: we want the community we serve to have access to a high quality, professional service.