Healthcare staff perceptions about interpreters during the COVID-19 pandemic


  • Carmen Valero-Garcés


Ensuring equal access to public services for all citizens is a fundamental right that is not not fully guaranteed. The lack of efficient communication between the different parties involved in the delivery of the service is one of the reasons for the failure to comply with this right. This need has been exacerbated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly regarding the health sector. The main objective of this article is to analyse the perception of healthcare staff regarding interpreters in the healthcare field. We are interested to know the knowledge that healthcare professionals have regarding the work of translators and interpreters, as well as their opinion about collaborating with them, and the impact that the availability of interpreters during the pandemic might have had. Data come from a survey addressed to healthcare personnel working in the Madrid area (Spain) in the spring of 2021. Answers reveal differences in experience and several perspectives depending on the health area in which they worked, as well as in terms of the role they played in their respective health institutions. An optimistic view is, however, seen as more and more professionals are beginning to become aware of the work of interpreters, and to contribute to making interpreters´ roles more visible. The progressive increase of foreigners living in Spain also fosters progress in terms of the recognition and professionalization of interpreting in public services, although not at the pace we would like to see.