Translating and Communication Services

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for practices to ensure that their practice team is aware of translating services for those patients whose first language is not English and communication services for those patients who have a communication impairment.

Practices should use an appropriately qualified medical interpreter rather than a family member or friend – unless this is specifically requested by the patient. By using a trained interpreter, information relayed to the patient will be translated more effectively. The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) is a free service for private medical practitioners (who provide services eligible for Medicare rebates) – GPs can register with TIS via their website.

The practice team should ask patients who have a communication impairment about the best way to communicate with them and confirm that they have understood the information given to them. Practice staff need to know how to access the National Relay Service (NRS).

Top Tip: Practices must document in the patient’s health record any time an interpreting or communication service is used.

Reference: Criterion C1.4 – Interpreter and other communication services