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Language services in the local NHS - interpreters, translated and alternative format information


NHS Liverpool CCG recognises that providing interpreters, translated and alternative format information is essential to making health care accessible to everyone.

We had some feedback that people were having difficulties getting the health care they need because of problems with this communication support. We joined up with our GP practices and local NHS organisations to try to make this better. We want to raise standards, improve training for NHS staff and make a more consistent service across the city. We also had conversations with NHS organisations in the nearby Merseyside and Cheshire area and many of them are joining in the work too.

We gathered a lot of feedback from people involved and affected. You can read the full report about this here and a summary of key findings and how they shaped the new services below.

We used what people told us to set out what we wanted from new services. We put this out to tender in spring 2021,  inviting bids from organisations who could provide these services for Liverpool and Sefton GPs, hospital, community and mental health trusts in Liverpool and Sefton, Liverpool City Council and some health partners further afield in Merseyside and Cheshire.

From 1st September 2021 NHS Liverpool CCG will have new arrangements in place for all Liverpool GP practices:

    • This includes :-
      • Highly skilled (NRCPD) interpreters for face to face and video appointments.
      • A new instant access or pre-booked video interpreter service which can be used for making appointments, consultations and for emergencies.
      • Making sign language versions of patient letters and other information.
    • Signalise Co-op is co-owned and co-run by both members of the local Deaf community and  BSL/English interpreters, and any profit made is reinvested into the co-op and its community.
  • DA Languages – will be providing spoken community language services.
    • This includes:-
      • Highly skilled interpreters for face to face, telephone and video appointments. This includes instant access telephone and video interpreter connection for making appointments, consultations and for emergencies.
      • written translations of patient information.
    • DA languages are a major provider of language services to the NHS and also to Liverpool City Council.

Knowsley GPs are now using these services and other NHS partners will bring them on over winter 2021 to 2022. We will continue to collaborate on these services to improve access to healthcare and raise standards consistently across the area.

We are currently taking a similar approach to seek providers of information in alternative formats for Blind and partially sighted people and for people with a learning disability. These will be live early 2022.


Click here to download the report


Summary of feedback and how it shaped the new service requirements

Feedback showed there is a lack of confidence in getting support to access healthcare, that people experience delays in diagnosis and care and that the procedures for booking support arrangements are often lacking. Key issues raised which are addressed in the new specification for the services include:-

  • 70% of service users responding said they had not sought healthcare because they felt they wouldn’t be understood or wouldn’t understand and >97% of VCSE organisations said they had witnessed this.
  • Nearly 90% said they needed help to make health appointments

The new service includes training for NHS staff and support to simplify booking procedures and confirm bookings.

The following were identified as important to a good service and are all part of the new service requirements:-

  • Professional, qualified interpreters
  • Requests for male/female/named interpreters
  • Confirmation of bookings

There was also a lot of support for getting the most social value possible from the contracts. We will be seeking to recruit, train and employ interpreters and translators from the local area, offer support and training to communities and reduce the environmental impact of the services.


Summary of Key Findings from Engagement with all Stakeholder Groups


Introduction – Content and Purpose




Summary of Key Findings from all Stakeholder Groups


Sign Language support in the local NHS – What is happening now?


Further information

If you would like further information or to request this report in other formats, please email or call (0151) 247 6409, or text: 07920 206386

Some of the languages and formats available on request include:


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Information for GP practices on how to make bookings can be found here.

This piece of work was also informed by work with the D/deaf community.

You can find out more about accessible information and what the NHS should do here.

If you need an interpreter for your appointment or information in a different format please make sure your GP knows what support you need.

You can download and use this card if you are Deaf.