We have stepped back 20 years as appropriate interpreting standards are abandoned
I am an NRCPD registered sign language interpreter in the UK and recent poor decisions made by the government on contracting for public service interpreting means that the specialist agencies have lost work to the one stop shop spoken language agencies who have not properly researched sign language interpreting provision and they have woefully underestimated how little the interpreter will be prepared to work for (fee wise) whilst lining their own pockets for doing not a lot - nowhere near the effort contributed by the interpreter anyway! This is seeing less and less appropriately trained, qualified and registered interpreters being able to undertake the work and it has opened the floodgates for BSL learners to be provided instead - who are not proficient in the language and who have yet to have any interpreter training. Despite major improvements to services in the last 20 years all this seemed to stop with the entrance of the new government, it feels like we have stepped back 20 years in terms of attitude towards appropriate access for people recognised under the Equality Act and towards the people who have spent a minimum of 7 years training.
In one instance I know of a triple subcontracting process that is squashing the interpreter's fee down so low (lower than that paid to training interpreters) that the agency is accepting offers from people with no formal BSL qualifications and they cannot understand what the deaf person is saying at their medical appointment. People are leaving hospital believing they are 'clear of cancer' as opposed to the image of their scan being 'clear'. 2 very different concepts and so 2 very different signs in BSL that a trained interpreter would know not to confuse.
It is a no brainer that only people trained, qualified and 'licenced' (registered in the UK) should be allowed anywhere near environments like health settings and I believe that the hospitals think they are getting this because they are parting with a lot of money, the problem is that it isn't going towards ensuring that the best possible access is provided for deaf patients, it is going pay for agency admin costs (multiple times in some cases) and real access is not being given to those that need it.