Insight into how Eastern European patients access NHS services

A Polish and Slovakian interpreter is sharing her experiences of working with Eastern European families with Bradford clinical commissioners to highlight some of the issues they face in accessing local health services.

Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has invited Beata Janus to its governing body meeting on Wednesday (8 Jan) to tell them about the differences between the health system in Poland and the NHS in this country – and the impact that has on how people access services and their expectations and experiences of the care they receive.

The CCG is keen to learn more about some of the barriers around language and culture and how it can tackle some of the issues raised through commissioning of local services which are responsive and provide a good experience of care.

Beata, who moved from Poland to the UK nine years ago and is now a freelance interpreter in Polish and Slovakian, will tell the CCG about how differences in healthcare can leave Eastern European patients confused and disappointed by the NHS.
“I lived in Poland for 20 years and the health service is well known to me. I can see the difference between the systems and compare them. Neither is perfect but the more people know about them the better,” said Beata. “There is often a lot of information around and people then don’t notice it. Some people don’t even go to see a doctor or hospital as they think they have to pay for the service of the doctor and also the interpreter.”

One example of how the healthcare systems differ is that in Poland mothers and new babies are kept in hospital for two to three days. “But here the mum can be discharged home after six hours if everything is alright, so people are disappointed because they don’t understand how the system works,” added Beata.

Dr Akram Khan, clinical chair of Bradford City CCG, said Beata’s insight was valuable to the CCG as it helped them see some of the problems encountered by Eastern European patients accessing healthcare in the inner city area.
“It’s really important that we are aware of patients’ experiences – both good and bad – so we can look at how our services are working and how they can be more responsive to all our local patients’ needs,” said Akram. “Everyone in the local NHS has a role to play in making services accessible and welcoming, and we will take a lead in making sure that is consistent across the system.”

Bradford City CCG’s governing body is holding its meeting in public on Wednesday 8 January 2014 at 1pm in Suite 2, Carlisle Business Centre, Carlisle Road, Bradford, BD8 8BD. Take a look at the agenda and associated papers.