Language Commissioner demands to know why jab app won’t be available in Welsh
The Welsh Language Commissioner has demanded to know why an NHS vaccination app won’t be available in Welsh.
Aled Roberts is writing to the Government after the First Minister updated the Senedd on how the development of a Welsh NHS app was progressing.
Mark Drakeford said that the app wouldn’t be available in Welsh despite “repeated requests to the UK Government to respect the law here in Wales”.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Language Commissioner said: “We are aware of the First Minister’s statement, and we will write to the Government to understand why the app will not be available in Welsh.”
An app has already been launched in England, but an equivalent has not been set up in Wales yet, where people need to apply for a certificate by phone or in writing to prove they’ve been vaccinated.
According to Drakeford once the “English system manages to do its job” it will be possible to use the “same solution” as England in Wales, although it will be via a website portal instead of an app.
But when it comes to making sure it is available in Welsh, he added that the UK Government has told him that it “won’t be able to do that for several more months”.
In the Senedd, Labour MS Hefin David shared a Facebook question from Rhian Jay, who asked: “Is there any idea of when the Welsh NHS vaccination app will launch please?
“I’m attending an event where I need proof of having had both vaccinations. Having raised it with the health board, they said that you can apply for a certificate in writing or by phone, and you can receive a certificate, but in England you can receive the vaccination through the app.”
Hefin David said: “Rhian says that she rang this morning requesting a certificate, but it’s her feeling that it’s archaic and slow compared to the process in England, and her question is: when will we see the app in Wales?
“The Welsh Government said that they would be roughly four weeks behind England before it’s launched, but that’s about now. So, please can we have an update on that?
Mark Drakeford replied: “Well, it is true that for technical reasons largely connected to the reconfiguration to the English solution to meet Welsh requirements, it was not possible to launch the app in Wales at the same time as it was launched in NHS England.
“I don’t agree that the solution that has been in place in the last four weeks is archaic.
“Over 10,000 people have received certificates through that way of doing things, and it’s due to the very hard work of the team in the Swansea Bay health board that that’s been possible.
“Once the English system manages to do its job, and to make access for Welsh people available to it. I’m afraid, Llywydd it will not be available in Welsh.
“Despite repeated requests to the UK Government to respect the law here in Wales; they tell us they won’t be able to do that for several more months, but within the next few days, we do anticipate that it will be possible for Welsh citizens to use the same solution, albeit it not via the app but via a website portal.
“The journey thereafter will be identical to the app and Welsh people will be able to use it in real time in the way that the English system has been available in England since 17 May.”