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Interpreting Services

Use of Interpreting Services in General Dental Practice

Why Use an Interpreter?

There are ethical, legal and business reasons for providing an interpreter to a patient who does not speak English as a first or competent second language. Access to an interpreter using one of the approved providers below is free of charge to Health Service patients (not private patients).

Friends, relatives or other persons should not be used as interpreters unless in for very routine administration tasks such as setting up an appointment.

For further information please see the following guidelines:

BSO Guidelines On Working With Interpreters For HSC Staff And Practitioners


Deciding whether to use Telephone or Face to Face Interpreter

Telephone Interpreting Services are provided by The Big Word. Face to Face Interpreters are booked in advance through Northern Ireland Health & Social Care Interpreting Service (NIHSCIS). For guidance on which is appropriate for your patient click on the following link:

Telephone v Face to Face Interpreter

Telephone Interpreting Services: The Big Word

For details on how to access a telephone interpreter, for language codes and other tips please refer to the following:

The Big Word Information Sheet

Tips for Using a Telephone Interpreter

Telephone Interpreting Service


In June 2019, all GDS practices received correspondence from HSCB, detailing your access code for The Big Word Telephone Interpreting Service.

If your practice does not have an access code for The Big Word, please contact Finola Powell, Assistant Business Support Manager for HSCB, via email at or by telephone 028 95362135.


Face to Face Interpreting: NIHSCIS

Northern Ireland Health & Social Care Interpreting Service (NIHSCIS) face-to-face interpreters must be booked through the Interpreting Service Online Booking System via the FPPS Dental Portal ( Please note if you do not currently have access to the portal contact with your name, GDC number and surgery details to request access. Practices are requested to submit all interpreter bookings via the online booking system once access to the FPPS Dental Portal has been facilitated.

If you do not yet have access to the FPPS Dental Portal, please email the completed NIHSCIS Booking Form to to make a request.

Please contact the NIHSCIS directly on 028 9536 3777 to request guidance on how to self-register, book and cancel Interpreters via the online booking system.

To book an Out of Hours interpreter please call 028 9615 8200

Please give as much notice as possible to ensure the availability of Interpreters. Please remember to cancel Interpreter bookings if appointments are cancelled to avoid unnecessary cost.


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