Helping Reading’s ex-Gurkha community get better care from their GP practice

Helping Reading’s ex-Gurkha community get better care from their GP practice

GPs in Reading have produced an appointment card in both English and Nepalese which aims to help members of the Nepalese-speaking ex-Gurkha community receive a better experience when using their GP surgery.

The handy credit-card sized card is designed to be shown to GP receptionists who will arrange for an interpreter for a current and / or subsequent appointment.

The card has been produced in response to a recent Healthwatch Reading report which recommended Reading’s two clinical commissioning groups should consider providing ex-Gurkhas and their families with an information card that they can show NHS staff to indicate that they wish to have an interpreter arranged for appointments.

Reading is home to around 700 ex-Gurkha households estimated to represent around 3,000 individuals. Healthwatch’s report says that many lack the language or cultural skills to engage effectively with health services.

Dr Andy Ciecierski, Clinical Chair for North and West Reading CCG and GP at Emmer Green Surgery said: “We are committed to engaging as widely as possible with the various communities in Reading and recognise the need to provide improved communications for the Nepalese community. We are pleased that members of this community had their say on the content and design of the card and we hope it enables ex-Gurkhas and their families to benefit from a more tailored experience from their GP practice.”

Healthwatch Reading chief executive, Mandeep Kaur Sira, welcomed the CCGs’ actions in responding to what the ex-Gurkha community had said they needed: “Our project found that 85% of this community found it difficult to explain their symptoms to health professionals, and 81% were not routinely offered an independent, professional interpreter. This new card will ensure members of the ex-Gurkha community get help to overcome language barriers, and do not have to resort to bringing English-speaking friends, family or even acquaintances to appointments to informally translate – which we found sometimes prevented people from raising medical issues of a very private nature.”

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, said: “The ex-Gurkha community in Reading is well established but there is still the on-going challenge of providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to access the basic services many of us take for granted. I am pleased that these cards will go at least some way towards helping this community access the help they need at an earlier stage.”

At GP practices in Reading, the NHS funds interpreters for patients, via the Borough Council interpretation and translation service.

The appointment cards are available from Reading GP practices and libraries, and the civic offices of Reading Borough Council.


  • Notes to editors:
    The Healthwatch Reading report ‘How the ex-Gurkha community access and experience health and social care services in Reading’ is available here: http://healthwatchreading.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/ExGurkhaFINAL.pdf
  • The commissioning and delivery of interpretation and translation services is complex in Reading. NHS England has the responsibility for commissioning translation and interpretation services for primary care and these are provided by Reading Borough Council. Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust provides its own service.
  • If you would like to interview Dr Andy Ciecierski, please contact Kulbir Sandhu on 07785 338845 /
  • Clinical commissioning groups are responsible for planning, designing and paying for NHS services. This includes planned and emergency hospital care, rehabilitation, most community services and mental health and learning disability services. Working with NHS England, this now includes planning GP services.
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