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Lack of translated advice 'puts patients at risk'

28.07.20, 12:11
Lack of translated advice 'puts patients at risk'
Image copyright Doctors of the World Image caption A charity has translated coronavirus advice into 60 languages (such as Gujarati) to combat what it calls a government "blind spot"

A lack of translated coronavirus guidance is jeopardising the safety of non-English speakers in the UK, a joint letter to the health secretary claims.

The government said it has translated public health information into 25 languages, reaching a "wide audience".

But campaigners say it is a "limited range of languages" and the translations can take weeks to be updated when advice or rules change.

One charity said the government has so far shown "no engagement" on the issue.

More than four million people in England and Wales do not consider English to be their main language, including more than 860,000 people who speak little or no English,

The resources produced by Doctors of the World have been downloaded about 60,000 times in the UK - including by police forces and groups providing accommodation for asylum seekers.

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionDoctors of the World says distrust of the NHS and government are leaving migrants scared to seek healthcare for Covid-19

Local authorities do provide translations of some of their own guidance

, but Ms Miller said Doctors of the World had been told by several local authorities that they "can't keep up with the rapid changes of guidance", resulting in inconsistent and outdated information.

The letter, sent on Monday evening and seen by the BBC, called for leadership from central government to maintain "quality and consistency" of public health messages.

It added that it was Mr Hancock's "statutory duty" to provide translated resources.

It said: "As lockdown measures are eased and guidance changes regularly, it is not sustainable or practical for local authorities and civil society to meet this need."

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

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