• 9Feb

    Lost in Translation: Report shows the rising costs of translation services in the NHS

    Research carried out by the think-tank, 2020Health, has revealed a dramatic increase in the amount spent by NHS Trusts on translation and interpretation services. Figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests show that NHS Trusts spent a total of £23.3 million on translation last year. The amount spent on translation has risen by 17 per cent since 2007, with nearly £65 million spent in the last three financial years.

    The report, Lost in Translation, investigates NHS spend on translation services, the overall costs as well as the individual areas of spend. Research was conducted by 2020health through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to 247 NHS Trusts.

    Key messages:

    • Trusts spent £23.3 million pounds on translation services last year.
    •  The NHS has spent £64.4 million on translation services in the last three financial years, a £9.4 million (17%) increase from 2007/8 – 2009/10.
    • This amount equates to a staggering £59k per day.
    • London Trusts comprised only 15% of the Trusts surveyed, but were responsible for 31% of the total spend.
    • 45% of Trusts could not break down the cost of written translation.
    • Overall costs of translation are on the rise, whilst the cost of written translation is decreasing, which indicates that it is the cost of interpretation that is rising.


    • Translate materials into easy read English rather than other languages, and make these materials available across all sites
    • Create a central repository of information that has already been translated into other languages so that it is readily available to all NHS sites
    • Provide more written translations through free web-based translation facilities such as Google Translate
    • Assess population to determine understanding and impact of translated material, e.g. assess patient knowledge, awareness, and uptake of public health prevention information
    • Introduce budgetary lines for different areas of translation to allow tracking and transparency of spending