Press release

New HSE resource available to support patient communication

Published: 14 December 2023

Updated: 31 January 2024


  • Published in 18 languages
  • Designed to help healthcare staff, and people who don’t speak English as their first language, to communicate
  • Figures show 13% of the migrant population in Ireland do not speak English

The Emergency Multi-Lingual Aid, including visual cues and language identification cards, has been updated to help frontline staff and patients who do not speak English as their first language to communicate.

With recent census statistics indicating that 13 per cent of the migrant population do not speak English at all or well, the new resource addresses a critical need in ensuring safe and efficient communication in hospitals.

Developed by HSE clinicians in conjunction with NGOs and services users, this resource draws on best international examples adapted to an Irish context. It is intended for use prior to requesting the services of an interpreter or while awaiting the interpreter's arrival.

Dr. Ciaran Browne, HSE National Lead for Inclusion Health Acute Operations explained:

“Patients presenting in acute or emergency situations can sometimes have difficulty communicating their symptoms in English. The roll out of this Emergency Multilingual Aid is one measure taken by the HSE to improve access to health and care services.”

Available to staff free online at healthpromotion.ie, this resource supports frontline staff to engage with patients who may face language barriers when arriving at an emergency department or maternity hospital. The aid includes visual cues and language identification card to assist in assessments.

Ruth Armstrong, Project Manager, HSE National Social Inclusion Office, added: 

“The Emergency Multi Lingual Aid is quick, accurate and easy to use. It covers common medical questions and terms to support frontline staff make an initial assessment while awaiting interpreter services.”

Joseph Doyle, National Lead, HSE National Social Inclusion Office, concluded:

“This resource can go beyond language barriers, offering support to patients who maybe deaf or may not be functionally literate. It comprises nine sections covering admission, registration, COVID-19, assessment, clinical care, maternity and discharge. It also includes a language identification card and patient-led questions.”

Developed by HSE clinicians in conjunction with NGOs and services users, this resource draws on best international examples adapted to an Irish context.

The Emergency Multi-Lingual Aid is available at healthpromotion.ie


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