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News / July 28, 2009

HSE helps dentists bridge the language divide

by Guy Hiscott

Dentists can now communicate more easily with people with limited English proficiency via the newly published Emergency Multilingual Aid from the HSE.

The changing demographic profile of the Irish population means that some patients with limited English may present at hospitals or other community health settings in acute or emergency situations. They may be unable to communicate their symptoms and distress to staff, while staff risk being unable to provide timely assistance when barriers to communication exist.

Emergency Multilingual Aid is intended for use prior to requesting the services of an interpreter or while awaiting the interpreter’s arrival.

Emergency Multilingual Aid is available to read or download in Arabic, Bosnian, Cantonese, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Pashtu, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Russian.

Alice O’Flynn, the HSE’s assistant national director for social inclusion, told the Irish Times: ‘We have had a lot of interest in the [packs] from our colleagues who deliver healthcare in the community, such as primary care teams – GPs, public health nurses, dentists – mental health and social workers, where they would see many patients and service users who do not speak English as their first language.’

You can download individual Emergency Multilingual Aids at