New strategy announced to ensure health and social care services are made available in Welsh
The Welsh Government has unveiled a new strategy to ensure that everyone who wants to can receive health and social care services in the Welsh language.
Workforce planning, staff training, digital systems and changing the culture are key elements of the More than just words five-year action plan, launched by the Health Minister, Eluned Morgan today.
Speaking at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Tregaron the Minister said: “When people are receiving or trying to access care, it is usually when they are at their most vulnerable, so being comfortable in their own language is important.
“Our research found that for many Welsh speakers, being able to access services in Welsh significantly improved their overall experience and, in many cases, improved their health and wellbeing outcomes.
“It also showed people often found it difficult to access services in Welsh and were reluctant to ask when Welsh language services were not offered.
“At the core of our strategy is the principle of the Active Offer. It places a responsibility on health and social care providers to offer services in Welsh, rather than on the patient or service user to have to request them.
“While progress has been made since our original plan was launched five years ago, we now need to offer more and faster to deliver that offer.”
The new action plan has been developed by an expert group, following an independent evaluation of the first More than just words five-year plan.
The group, chaired by Marian Wyn Jones considered patients’ experience, evidence from Welsh Government, the NHS and social care, regulators, professional bodies and from the education and training sectors.
The plan is made up of several actions under five themes:
Culture and leadership
Welsh language planning and policies
Supporting and developing Welsh language skills of the workforce
Sharing best practice
Progress against the actions will be monitored by a new advisory board.
The Minister added: “There are almost 200,000 staff working in health and social care in Wales so this is also a huge opportunity for them to lead the way in contributing to the Welsh Government’s ambition to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
“Our health and social care staff have done extraordinary work during the pandemic, and they continue to work under intense pressure.
“They care deeply about providing the best possible care for people in Wales – for Welsh-speakers that means providing a service in Welsh.
“By working together I am sure we can all deliver the ambitions of this plan.”
In response to the announcement of the new ‘More Than Just Words’ scheme, Gwenith Price, Deputy Welsh Language Commissioner said: “Providing health care services in Welsh is crucial to ensuring respect and dignity for Welsh speakers. It’s more than a matter of language choice, it’s a core part of care and a clinical need for many.
“The launch of the new scheme which follows previous More Than Just Words schemes is, therefore an important step forward.
“There is much work to be done to strengthen the place of the Welsh language in the health sector, including workforce development and planning, as well as collecting and using appropriate data.
“The timing of this is important and I hope that Welsh Government will include the actions outlined in the new plan into their work programme to rebuild the health sector after the pandemic.
“Whilst we understand that the last few years have been difficult for the sector, it’s important that the government and all partners in the healthcare sector work together to deliver the plan’s objectives to ensure the best care for patients and service users.”
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