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Welsh language services in Wales’ health and social care services to be strengthened

This press release was published under the 2011 - 2016 Welsh government

Ensuring the safety, dignity and respect of Welsh speakers is at the heart of plans to offer health and social care services in Welsh without someone having to ask for it, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said today.
Monday 07 December 2015

‘More than just words….’ the Welsh Government’s original strategic framework for Welsh language services in health, social services and social care, launched in 2012, led to the development of a number of initiatives which helped ensure Welsh speakers receive health, social services and social care services in their first language by making the best use of existing skills and resources.

The aim of the follow-on strategic framework, which is subject to a 12 week consultation is to ensure a greater level of recognition among service providers that the use of the Welsh language is a matter of choice, which is especially important for many vulnerable people and their families who need to access services in their first language, such as older people suffering from dementia or stroke who may lose their second language or very young children who may only speak Welsh.

As part of the Welsh Government’s strengthened approach, the Welsh NHS, social services and social care services will need to place the ‘Active Offer’ at the centre of service provision by proactively providing a service in Welsh without someone having to ask for it.  

To achieve this, services will need to:

  • Ask their service users not just what is the matter with them, but what matters to them
  • Mainstream Welsh language services as an integral part of their service delivery and workforce planning
  • Ensure that language sensitivity is also clear and explicit in all commissioning processes and decisions, given the  high proportion of services in the NHS, social services and social care contracted to third parties.

The Minister said he recognises public services are operating within very tight and challenging financial constraints but made it clear that realising the vision of ‘More than just words’ should not require additional resources and will also deliver on the forthcoming Welsh Language Standards.

Mark Drakeford said:

“The quality of care our NHS, social services and social care services provide to people can be compromised by a failure to communicate with patients and service users in their language of choice.  Some people can only express their needs for care effectively by speaking Welsh.  

“People choose to receive health and social care services in Welsh because that is their preference and right.  For others, it is more than just a matter of choice – it is a matter of need. Some people are not always in a position to express their choice. This is especially true for the elderly, people with dementia or a stroke, or young children who may only speak Welsh.  

“The underlying principles in the framework should result in a change in culture, which takes away the responsibility of the patient to ask for a service through the medium of Welsh, to services in Welsh being actively offered to them by our health, social care and social Services.

“This will help ensure people are in control of their care, and know and understand what is going on around them. This is absolutely fundamental in ensuring people are treated with dignity and respect.”



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Health and social services 07 December 2015 Programme for Government - Healthcare Mid Wales North Wales South East Wales South West Wales

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