More often than not by the time your patient has reached your services they will already have been in contact with a GP, in which case, the referral of the patient should already state that an interpreter is needed and will specify what language and dialect is required.
In the case where this has not happened it may be yourself as the practitioner who identifies that an interpreter is required. Some patients may be unable to communicate in English or have a very low level of English proficiency, this will mean the decision of requesting an interpreter will be obvious.
If you decide that an interpreter is required, you will need to discuss this with the patient prior to arranging the interpreter. Where the patient’s level of English does require an interpreter, you should consider using a telephone interpreter to explain to your patient what you will do so they know exactly what is going on. At this stage it would be good practice to provide the patient with any information about the interpreter service, as this will address any concerns the patient has with using an interpreter, for example, that you will organise the interpreter on their behalf at no cost to them. This can be supported by using telephone interpreting which is discussed in the section, ‘Telephone interpreting’.