The death of healthcare interpreting in the Netherlands

This is a reblog of a piece I wrote for the AIIC Blog. You can find the original post here.

When patients must provide their own interpreters, the healthcare system itself becomes ill. The ensuing social and personal toll is once again being ignored in the name of transient budgetary savings.

Most people with even a marginal interest in the interpreting profession will have heard about the events involving the UK Ministry of Justice’s changes to court interpreting procurement and the scandals arising from service provider Capita’s mismanagement of interpreter resources (if you haven’t, you can read a summary of events here and follow the interpreter response here). It will come as a sad surprise to hear that something even more worrying is going on in the Netherlands. There, healthcare interpreters have seen their profession effectively erased out of existence as a result of a government decision to no longer pay for interpreting services in healthcare settings.


4 thoughts on “The death of healthcare interpreting in the Netherlands

  1. What an unfortunate turn of events in the Netherlands. While encouraging immigrants to learn the official language of the country is a good thing, making that a requisite to receive proper healthcare is just appalling! There goes likely a lot of preventative care…

    Now, many who can will probably rely on the younger generation, on their children in particular, who may or may not know how to properly communicate that medical information. In addition, and perhaps an extreme, I will always remember hearing about the situation where a child has to learn about and inform their parents of a terminal illness and how devastating that must be for both parties.

    On a positive note, I would like to thank you for highlighting this newly passed legislation. In fact, it was upon learning about language barriers in the healthcare setting that instilled in me the desire to become a translator/ interpreter. To me, these are basic rights and therefore should be universally accessible, regardless of what languages one may speak.

    On a final note, I must confess that I had not heard about the changes in the UK Ministry of Justice nor about those in the Netherlands prior to your blog post. Therefore, I would like to ask about what sources one might want to follow in order to be more informed about the events of the interpreting world. Again, thank you so much! I really appreciate this blog.

    • Thanks for your comments, Irvin. I have to confess I get most of my information these days from Twitter :). I follow a lot of good sources of interpreting news there. Others prefer to follow interpreting associations on Facebook, read interpreter blogs or sign up for association newsletters. I’d prefer not to plug any sources in particular right here, but maybe my readers would like to share their favourite sources of interpreting news with you?

  2. Pingback: Londinium, IAPTI y los scones de crema | Aventuras de una traductora-intérprete en Madrid

  3. Medical interpreting must be a very difficult thing to do. And only those who are qualified should take this job. The quality should be excellent because the job is related with life and death of a patient. And therefore, the government should pay them so the quality control could be maintained.

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