Unionists seek interpreters at public hospitals

Local | Riley Chan 20 Nov 2017

There should be at least one interpreter to serve ethnic minorities in each public hospital, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions has demanded.

Last year, 263,593 people from ethnic minority backgrounds, excluding foreign domestic helpers, were believed to be living in Hong Kong, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

However, those who visited public clinics and hospitals struggled to communicate during consultations, FTU lawmaker and vice chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Rights of Ethnic Minorities Alice Mak Mei-kuen said.

The Hospital Authority outsourced translation services to Hong Kong TransLingual Services, a non-profit organization, she said.

Mak said patients could also fill in a form by themselves but since it was in English, it proved difficult for many patients to complete.

"If they could understand the English words on the form, why would they need an interpreter in the first place?" she said.

Frontline HKTS medical interpreter Yasir Luqman slammed the lack of standard guidelines in hospitals. "Staff attitude in some hospitals is uncooperative. Some staff will ask us to speed up during the interpretation process, which eventually affects the quality of our services," he said.

The FTU urged the authority to collect data on how many ethnic minorities sought consultations at hospitals and clinics.

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