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September 8, 2004

BGS to help NHS Direct bridge language barriers

From: E-Health Insider, UK - Sep 8, 2004

Bowne Global Solutions (BGS), has announced that it has signed a contract with NHS Direct to provide the nurse-led telephonic health advice and information service with interpreters 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The contract provides a framework agreement allowing other NHS organisations to use BGS at common pricing and levels of service. The interpreter service will be accessed using BCG's online language services portal, Elcano

Under the terms of the contract, if a patient calls NHS Direct and does not speak English, he or she will be linked to a BGS interpreter who will translate the confidential communications between patient and nurse.

"As soon as a need is established the service can connect a caller to an interpreter within minutes," an NHS Direct spokesperson told E-Health Insider. The connection to the interpreter works in a similar way to a conference call placing the caller, the NHS Direct Nurse and the interpreter on a shared line.

NHS Direct translation services have previously been provided by a range of providers. "We are hoping the new arrangement will provide a much improved service," said the spokesperson.

Some of the languages that will be in demand for interpretation are Punjabi, Arabic, Kurdish, French, Turkish and Bengali. Five hundred thousand calls are made to NHS Direct monthly, approximately 500 of which are from non-English-speaking service users. Calls to NHS Direct that require interpreters are expected to increase.

Brian Kelly, BGS senior vice-president for Europe, said: "This service highlights our ability to provide a comprehensive interpretation and translation service for organisations communicating in many languages."

BGS will use its Web-based language services portal, Elcano,, to receive, assign and track all interpretation and translation requests from NHS Direct. BGS will be equipped to respond to hundreds of interpretation and translation requests each day.

The framework contract signed by NHS Direct wil make the translation service avaialble to all NHS organisations that wish to use it.

NHS Direct handles over half a million telephone calls and half a million Web site visits each month. Over the past six years, it has grown from a small-scale pilot project to become one of the largest and most successful healthcare providers of its kind in the world.

BGS, which has six locations throughout England, already provides face-to-face interpretation, British Sign Language interpretation and translation services to hospitals throughout the United Kingdom. The company provides similar services to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in Ireland; the Department of Justice in the United States; and the University of Maryland Medical System.