Translation and Interpreting


An Interpreter is a person who speaks more than one language and can assist communication with patients/service users. Where appropriate, the health service can provide an Interpreter for those who can't speak English. There is no centrally held budget for this; each service area that arranges the interpretation service pays i.e. each hospital or health clinic pays for their own Interpretation costs.

Using an Interpreter

If you are planning to use the services of an Interpreter, please read through On Speaking Terms: Good Practice Guidelines for Staff in the Provision of Interpreting Services.

  • HSE National Standard Operating Procedure for Accessing Interpretation Services (excluding Irish Language Services) 
  • Poster for services to display in healthcare settings. The languages are English, Irish, Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese Mandarin, Czech, Farsi, French, Georgian, Kurdish, Lithuanian, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian, Urdu.
  • Translations of health resources
  • The Emergency Multi-Lingual Aid helps health staff to communicate more effectively with patients who do not speak English. The aid includes visual cues and language identification card to assist in assessments. It is intended for use prior to asking for the services of an interpreter or while waiting for the interpreter to arrive.

Translating material

If you are planning to translate some material, please read through

Lost in Translation?  Good Practice Guidelines for HSE Staff in Planning, Managing and Assuring Quality Translations of Health Related Material into Other Languages (PDF)

This is also available as an app (an app is a piece of software that can be used on a mobile phone, tablet or sometimes a computer). The app is available free of charge from Google Play.