The new Welsh language commissioner Meri Huws – who only came into office in April – has announced her first inquiry in a speech at the National Eisteddfod in Llandow, in the Vale of Glamorgan.
The inquiry will focus on the prominence, use, and attitudes towards the Welsh language in health and care services across the nation.
Speaking at the premier artistic event in Wales and one of Europe’s largest and oldest cultural festivals on Wednesday, Huws explained that she had been in discussions with people right across Wales since beginning her role as commissioner. Furthermore, she stated that many of the people she had spoken to, including many Welsh speakers, wanted her ‘to make an inquiry into the use of Welsh in the field of health and care.’
“I had no intention of launching a statutory inquiry like this so early in my role, but on the basis of the evidence we have collected it was clear that we had a responsibility to look at this subject.
“Respecting an individual’s language needs should be seen central to the clinical treatment, and not as an additional consideration,” said Huws last week.
In May, press reports told of how the British Medical Association (BMA) believed the use of the Welsh language was not a priority when delivering healthcare. The BMA said health money should not go into ‘promoting’ the Welsh language, and also that targeting Welsh-speaking staff could hamper recruitment.
What is apparent is that plenty of research exists within this area, which suggests that bilingual individuals often use the languages they speak in different ways to convey their varying emotions. Of course, young, old and mentally handicapped people, are most affected by this subject.
We firmly believe that steps must be taken to ensure that language barriers must be considered, challenged and broken, especially when vulnerable individuals are involved.
As a Swansea based language services provider, we understandably have strong views on the promotion of the Welsh language and believe that more should be done to recruit Welsh speakers in the health and care sectors. With around one million native speakers of Welsh, surely efforts should be made to ensure that Welsh speaking patients receive information and care in their first language. Comfort is crucial in health care, and language should not get in the way of the care that patients receive.
What are your thoughts on the Welsh language, and its use in these sectors? Do you believe that this inquiry will have a positive impact upon the language? Let us know your thoughts via the comment box below. We would love to hear from you.