The Commisceo Global Blog - Perfect for Culture Vultures

Whether a press release, a case study of cultural difference, some tips on working abroad or some lessons in cross-communication, we try our best to satiate your inner culture vulture.

London Hospitals Spend £15m on Interpreters



In areas such as London where there is large culturally diversity, it seems that hospitals are running up larger than average bills because they are having to employ interpreters so that patients who do not speak the language can understand the medical staff who are treating them.
Recent numbers indicate that around seven hospital trusts in London have run up large bills employing interpreters trying to tackle language barriers. It has sparked fresh outcry across London and the rest of the UK that people who come to England to live need to be able to speak the language.
The London NHS Trust said that its biggest bill was for £2.2million pounds to make sure that patients who did not speak the language had access to interpreters. The figures highlight the problem of immigration and language barriers. Nick de Bois the MP who published the findings said that it was a clear example of the cost to the country that people who do not speak the language can bring.
The survey was based on information from The University College London Hospital Trust which spent £1.6million, Guy's Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital paid £1.3million and Great Ormond Street Hospital and Homerton University Hospital  had to pay approximately £1.2million each.
At a time when the country is cutting back on spending it seems an unnecessary expense for London hospitals to be spending their budget on interpreters. However it is also true that hospitals still need to provide proper patient care and when patients are unable to speak the language it seems that the hospitals have no choice but to employ interpreters.
Communication is important when it comes to good hospital care but this is not always easy or cheap as these London hospitals have proved by having to hire interpreters.
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Interpreters "Operating" In Hospitals



People often think that UK doctors are the pillars of UK society who you can trust implicitly, however it seems that the Europe is insisting on chipping away at the confidence that we have in our doctors.

This is due to foreign doctors entering the UK to work. According to recent figures not all doctors that enter the UK are assessed for their competency in the English language and as a result interpreters are being employed by the NHS to make the doctors understood.

European law states that as long as doctors are qualified to work in the UK health service then the General Medical Council are not able to refuse employment based on poor language skills. This has left the UK health service having to seek language interpreters to translate the language for foreign doctors.

Using interpreters creates an extra step in the medical process that allows for human error. If we need to start employing UK interpreters to translate the language for non-native speaking doctors there would be unnecessary bodies in the operating theatre and hospital wards. Interpreters have a difficult job and they can make mistakes due to the nuances of a language and errors are just not an option when you are dealing with lives.

The UK General Medical Council has made a submission to the European Commission which is currently reviewing laws that allow doctors to practice freely across Europe. As there is no standardised medical qualification it means that is it hard to assess doctors that are not from the UK, let alone whether or not doctors are able to speak the language.

The GMC has known of cases where language interpreters have been needed in theatres and of cases when doctors operating on a patient have spoken to co-workers in a language other than English and this left confusion in the operating theatre.
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Bilingual Business @ Home



The benefits of launching operations globally have been well documented. Launching offices in places like India and China has allowed companies like Nestle and Google to harness the benefits of addressing consumers in their own language.
But you don’t have to go abroad to benefit from going bi-lingual. Your operations can stay at home and still significantly increase their consumer base through the use of additional languages.
1.    Cultural Diversity Online
Many countries are culturally diverse today, especially in urban areas, so launching websites that address the multi-lingual roots of your consumers can bring you big business at home. For example the USA has a population of 311 million people, of this number almost 50 million have Hispanic roots. Adopting Spanish-language websites could improve the uptake of internet shopping in this culture-group as they feel that their linguistic needs are being directly addressed. Furthermore on a practical level, roughly 12 million of these people are unable to speak English proficiently meaning that Spanish-language websites are the only way for them to access the web.

2.    Bi-Lingual in-store
However, not all companies want to make the investment in multiple websites, perhaps deciding that the translation output or the cost of personale to run these sites is too high. Some companies such as Home Depot have even found that multiple sites can cause problems where consumers believe they can purchase products in countries like Spain (because the website is in Spanish) whereas the company only currently deliver in the USA. Home Depot’s solution was the facilitation of bi-lingual communication in-store.
Spanish-speaking employees in-store were able to serve the quarter of Hispanic people who don’t speak English and the further fifty percent of Hispanics who, although proficient in English, prefer to communicate in their mother-tongue.

Of course companies can then expand their delivery or offices worldwide in response to the demand for their multiple lingual sites. Companies like Best Buy, NutriSystem, AFLAC and Vonage have all made moves to service their culturally and linguistically diverse consumer base.
So if you haven’t the money or just don’t want to make the move to global offices or delivery at the moment you can still benefit from making your company bi-lingual. Whether online or in-store people respond better when they feel their custom is appreciated; so bi-lingual could not only encourage people to use your services but also ensure they continue to come back to you in the future.
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2011 Census Translation Costs



The impending 2011 Census is projected to cost the United Kingdom Government £480 million; a large percentage of this cost is being taken up by the multiple translations of both the Census and its relevant advertisements.

The Census, which will be conducted on March 27th, is a legal requirement for all citizens over the age of 18 and is conducted once every ten years. The last Census was completed in 2001 and cost around £200 million. The significant increase in cost is said to arise from inflation coupled with the biggest ten-year growth in the population the UK has ever seen, which means significantly more Censuses are required than in 2001.

More people also means more censuses in more languages, because two-thirds of the population growth came from migrants who have settled in the UK in the last ten years. Furthermore because immigrant communities are amongst the lowest ‘turn-out’ groups for on-time completion of the Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS- which organizes the survey) is placing extra money and manpower into ensuring this group completes on time. The Census will be translated into 56 languages, whilst 30,000 people have been employed to help immigrant communities and other low ‘turn-out’ groups to complete their surveys on time.

This expense has subsequently caused many to question the financial viability of the Census just two years from the 2008/9 economic crisis; some have even questioned the validity of continuing the Census at all.

On one hand the Census is important in that it provides a huge amount of practical information for the public services. It helps local councils assess how many primary school places are needed each year and in the future could be vital in planning elderly care for the increasingly aging population. Given the number of immigrants who have set up home since 2001 it is necessary to find out how these ‘extra’ people’s needs has and will affect our public services. Without compulsory surveying we might not be able to systematically gain this information from these communities.

However, despite the Census being labeled ‘compulsory’ almost three million people failed to complete the 2001 edition. Therefore can we really trust the validity of its results when groups such as the immigrant community are under-represented through non-completion? These skewed results might actually worsen our public services if the government subsequently under-estimates the level of care these communities need.

Aside from the practical implications, the Census is a core tool for academics and historians. Researchers can track trends in culture and society since its first implementation in 1801, meaning the Census effectively helps ‘write’ the history of the UK. Without this resource we could not look to the findings of the past in order to predict the possible challenges of the future.

Yet although the majority of people accept these benefits there is still widespread discomfort as to the cost of the Census when the UK has just come out of recession. Some people think that migrants living in the UK should be able to complete the Census in English (or alternatively Welsh) and dislike paying for so translations to be produced. Although it is impossible to know if this is just a Census concern or part of their wider doubts about high immigration levels and its affect on the economy and public services.

With more information available to the us and the government everyday through internet browser cookies and other virtual data storage, perhaps people just feel that it is time that the ONS relied on this existing information instead of spending so much on promoting a survey that many people fail to complete.
Continue reading

2011 Census Translation Costs



The impending 2011 Census is projected to cost the United Kingdom Government £480 million; a large percentage of this cost is being taken up by the multiple translations of both the Census and its relevant advertisements.

The Census, which will be conducted on March 27th, is a legal requirement for all citizens over the age of 18 and is conducted once every ten years. The last Census was completed in 2001 and cost around £200 million. The significant increase in cost is said to arise from inflation coupled with the biggest ten-year growth in the population the UK has ever seen, which means significantly more Censuses are required than in 2001.

More people also means more censuses in more languages, because two-thirds of the population growth came from migrants who have settled in the UK in the last ten years. Furthermore because immigrant communities are amongst the lowest ‘turn-out’ groups for on-time completion of the Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS- which organizes the survey) is placing extra money and manpower into ensuring this group completes on time. The Census will be translated into 56 languages, whilst 30,000 people have been employed to help immigrant communities and other low ‘turn-out’ groups to complete their surveys on time.

This expense has subsequently caused many to question the financial viability of the Census just two years from the 2008/9 economic crisis; some have even questioned the validity of continuing the Census at all.

On one hand the Census is important in that it provides a huge amount of practical information for the public services. It helps local councils assess how many primary school places are needed each year and in the future could be vital in planning elderly care for the increasingly aging population. Given the number of immigrants who have set up home since 2001 it is necessary to find out how these ‘extra’ people’s needs has and will affect our public services. Without compulsory surveying we might not be able to systematically gain this information from these communities.

However, despite the Census being labeled ‘compulsory’ almost three million people failed to complete the 2001 edition. Therefore can we really trust the validity of its results when groups such as the immigrant community are under-represented through non-completion? These skewed results might actually worsen our public services if the government subsequently under-estimates the level of care these communities need.

Aside from the practical implications, the Census is a core tool for academics and historians. Researchers can track trends in culture and society since its first implementation in 1801, meaning the Census effectively helps ‘write’ the history of the UK. Without this resource we could not look to the findings of the past in order to predict the possible challenges of the future.

Yet although the majority of people accept these benefits there is still widespread discomfort as to the cost of the Census when the UK has just come out of recession. Some people think that migrants living in the UK should be able to complete the Census in English (or alternatively Welsh) and dislike paying for so translations to be produced. Although it is impossible to know if this is just a Census concern or part of their wider doubts about high immigration levels and its affect on the economy and public services.

With more information available to the us and the government everyday through internet browser cookies and other virtual data storage, perhaps people just feel that it is time that the ONS relied on this existing information instead of spending so much on promoting a survey that many people fail to complete.
Continue reading