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?
- Send us any examples of BSL/English interpreters not being provided by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our online form.
- Complain! If you receive a poor service from an NHS booked interpreter, please do put in a complaint. Make a complaint here.
- Ask to see interpreters’ badges and check they are registered on the NRCPD website.
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.