Table 1: Role of interpreters and link workers.

Interpreter and Translation Services

Link workers

To relate factual information in another language

Will provide telephone advice or, when required, attend to provide support in health settings.

Interpreters will convert speech from one language to another

Support staff to deliver culturally sensitive care and build staff capacity to support patients from minority ethnic communities

They will maintain confidentiality at all times

Tackle barriers to access and facilitate holistic person-centred care. Support patients and professionals to arrive at a shared understanding, which facilitates assessment, treatment and discharge processes.

They will have no contact with the patient out-with the interpreting session

Work with staff and patients on personal care needs, cultural concepts of mental health and information on any additional services to support patients/ carers to improve lifestyles and life circumstances

They may provide no guarantee of continuity with the same interpreter

Source culturally appropriate translated information resources or support the patient to understand English information resources


Focus on empowering individuals/communities and reduce health inequalities and the stigma of mental ill-health


Ensure the minority ethnic communities have equitable access to anticipatory healthcare and health promoting information

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Available Monday- Friday 09.00-17.00

Source: Lothian Health Board Minority Ethnic Health Inclusion Service