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Caring across cultures: the role of translation in healthcare across the UK

By Katie Reed | November 29, 2023 | Blog healthcare Services - Translation


The role of translation in healthcare is increasing. The most recent government figures show that immigration is still on the rise and with it comes an increase in the number of non-English speakers. This can have wide reaching implications for the healthcare sector and patient care.

Around one in ten UK residents don’t speak English as their first language, and in densely populated areas such as London and Birmingham, this figure rises to circa one in five people. 

This trend is set to continue as data from the ONS shows that over the next 25 years net international migration will account for almost three-quarters of UK population growth. This challenges the NHS and other healthcare providers to meet their patients’ changing communication needs. The consequences of a language barrier in healthcare are profound, impacting medical consultations, understanding prescriptions and accessing critical healthcare information.

In this blog we explore the critical role translation in healthcare plays in overcoming these barriers to medical market research and patient communication and care in an increasingly diverse and multi-lingual population.


Understanding patients is key to providing quality medical care

Pharmaceutical and medical translation plays a vital role in informing and broadening our understanding of medical conditions and the response of patients. This important work fosters our ability to diagnose diseases earlier or more accurately, provide life-changing treatments, prevent people from developing some conditions and generally ensure a better quality of life.

High-quality healthcare translation maintains consistency and accuracy across different languages, including translating study protocols, case report forms and patient diaries, gaining informed consent for pharmaceutical trials and the understanding of research findings and final reports. It also enables medical professionals to understand those patients for whom English is not a native language and helps them get better outcomes. 


Communicate with patients in a language they understand

Medical research is just the first step in ensuring a better patient experience and care. Communicating the large amounts of oftentimes complex information involved in the healthcare sector can be difficult for both professionals and patients. For example, consider a patient receiving a medical report detailing their diagnosis and treatment plan. The accurate translation of this information is crucial for the patient’s comprehension and engagement in their healthcare journey. 

This complexity extends to various forms of communication, including patient leaflets, consent forms, discussion guides and even website content. Healthcare document translation again plays a vital role in addressing these challenges, requiring specialised knowledge and experience.   

Expert healthcare translators understand the cultural nuances and differences in medical practices that need to be taken into account, ensuring all the information is culturally sensitive and relevant to the target audience. 

As we navigate the intricate landscape of healthcare in an increasingly diverse UK, the importance of effective communication cannot be overstated. Translation in this context is a linchpin, breaking down language barriers and fostering a deeper understanding between healthcare providers and their diverse patient base. As we look towards the future of healthcare, it’s evident that a commitment to linguistic inclusivity is not just a matter of policy but a cornerstone in providing equitable and quality healthcare for all.


An extension of your team

Beyond offering best-in-class healthcare translation services, The Language Factory’s team of mother-tongue linguists and expert Project Managers serve as an extension of your team. 

We partner with our clients, providing comprehensive support and managing translation services for healthcare services from inception to completion. Our specialist Project Managers understand the importance of our clients’ time and deal with any issues along the way to ensure a smooth and straightforward process.  

We also provide additional language support, including multilingual Desktop Publishing. This service ensures that your translated document format will keep the integrity of the original and has proved popular for our clients working in the NHS. It’s a useful solution to the problem of translating ‘ready to print’ leaflets and posters, making sure that they fit the template or design once translated. We work with full packages from InDesign and are able to liaise directly with the original designer of the file to ensure a smooth service.

Contact our team to discuss how our expert translators can help with your next medical translation project.

Find out more about our translation services:

Business translation

English editing service


Audio translation