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Swann highlights role of Interpreters to support Ukrainian Refugees




Health Minister Robin Swann has met with newly trained Ukrainian interpreters who have been recruited to help Ukrainian refugees access health services here.


Speaking at an event in Stormont Estate, Minister Swann said:


“Significant work has been undertaken recently to build capacity for the Ukrainian language – including an accelerated registration programme.



“As a result, the Business Services Organisation (BSO) Interpreting Service has been able to register nine new interpreters in a shorter than normal timeframe.  Four of the new Interpreters are recent refugee arrivals and I am particularly delighted to welcome them, along with their children and sponsors, to this event today.


“The work they are undertaking will, we hope, assist their country men and women to rebuild their lives in a safe and peaceful haven by helping our HSC colleagues across Northern Ireland to support Ukrainian Refugees with their resettlement.”



Based on their experience in the successful resettlement of over 1,850 Syrian refugees to Northern Ireland, the BSO Interpreting Service took a proactive role to register and train new Ukrainian and Russian Interpreters to support Northern Ireland’s response to the Ukrainian Humanitarian Crisis.


Following appeals shared across Northern Ireland, a number of Ukrainian and Russian Speakers came forward to offer their services as Interpreters, including recent Ukrainian refugee arrivals.


There has also been a number of Russian language interpreter requests for Ukrainians who speak Russian as a first language.



The BSO Interpreting Service is commissioned by the Department of Health to provide interpreting support to the HSC Trusts, Primary Care Services, and other approved HSC providers in Northern Ireland.


The service have already processed 364 Ukrainian requests since March 2022, mostly covering Health Visiting, Children’s Services, School Nursing and Assistance Centre Bookings.



Minister Swann concluded:


“Northern Ireland is the only region in the UK with a dedicated Health and Social Care Interpreting Service, something we are extremely proud of. This event not only acknowledges those individuals who have stepped up to make a difference, it recognises the compassion we should all have to help others in need.”


The BSO Interpreting Service is a vital service that ensures improved access to health and social care services for Patients/Clients resident in NI who do not speak English proficiently.  Providing an Interpreter:

  • ensures clear, accurate and impartial communication

  • assists HSC Services to provide a responsive service

  • minimises the risk of misdiagnosis, misunderstanding and non-consent

  • reduces times/costs associated with repeat appointments, prolonged appointments, and unnecessary admission to hospital

  • complies with legislative requirements: Race Relations (NI) Order 1997; Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998


To be registered, an interpreter must complete a recognised qualification (OCN level 4 Certificate in Community Interpreting) as well as completing a health-specific induction course delivered by BSO. Registration criteria also includes BSO carrying out required reference checks, Access NI checks, and right to work checks.