Obligatory Welsh Language option in consultations? Resentment and ignoring is likely.. Local choice is best..

THE WG is asking for feedback on the issue of Welsh Language Standards in the consultation.

WELSH LANGUAGE STANDARDS (HEALTH SECTOR) REGULATIONS – Consultation by Welsh Government – Deadline for responses: 16 September 2016

Following on from a standards investigation carried out by the Welsh Language Commissioner between November 2014 and February 2015, the Welsh Government is consulting on regulations that will define new Welsh language standards to be applied to bodies operating within the health sector in Wales.

The extent to which these bodies will have to comply with the new standards will be subsequently determined by the issuing of compliance notices by the Welsh Language Commissioner.

Part 1 of the draft regulations deals with the delivery of services by health boards and trusts and includes the following provisions:

  • Individuals attending a clinical consultation must be asked if they would like Welsh language support during the consultation. If so, such support must be provided at clinical consultations thereafter unless consultations themselves can be carried out in Welsh. This support could be provided by a Welsh speaking member of staff who is able to check the individual understands what has been said and, if need be, provide an explanation or translation in Welsh.
  • During case conferences, other than those only involving health professionals from a defined list, an individual must be asked if they wish to use Welsh. If so, translation from Welsh to English and English to Welsh must be provided unless the case conference is held in Welsh.
  • When a health board or trust is providing a clinical consultation or holding a case conference on behalf of a different health board or trust, the standards that should apply are those that apply to the body conducting the consultation or case conference.
  • When these standards refer to an individual, this means a member of the public who is ordinarily resident in Wales.
  • The standards outlined in this part of the regulations will not apply to a body when providing primary care services (whether provided directly or contracted), or when a body sub-contracts services to a primary care provider.
  • The standards will also not apply when responding to civil contingencies and other emergencies that occur outside a hospital.
  • The standards will also not apply when a body sub-contracts with a private hospital in Wales or a hospital located outside Wales.

Part 2 of the draft regulations concerns primary care[1] (defined as general practice, dental, ophthalmic and pharmacy services), and includes the following provisions:

  • Health boards to promote on their websites any primary care providers who are willing to provide all or part of their primary care services through the medium of Welsh.
  • Health boards will be required to provide a translation service for use by primary care providers to enable them to obtain Welsh language translations of signs to be displayed in connection with their services.
  • Health boards will be required to produce any document relating to primary care services which is for public use in Welsh.
  • Health boards to provide a Welsh language version of any document they make available to primary care providers that is intended for public use.
  • Information about primary care on health board websites must be available in Welsh.
  • Apps published by health boards which relate to primary care must be available in Welsh, and the Welsh language treated no less favourable than English when they use social media in relation to primary care services.
  • Health boards must provide and promote the wearing of badges that convey that a primary care provider (or staff member) speaks Welsh.
  • Health boards will be required to provide training courses, information or hold events aimed at primary care providers to raise awareness of the Welsh language and how it can be used in the workplace.

Part 3 of the draft regulations apply to various bodies which regulate health and social care professionals. This is to apply Welsh language standards to them which have already been agreed under previous regulations for the Agricultural Land Tribunal; the Education Workforce Council; the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales; the Residential Property Tribunal Wales; the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales; and the Valuation Tribunal for Wales. The health bodies which it is proposed will now come under these same standards are the Care Council for Wales; the General Chiropractic Council; the General Dental Council; the General Medical Council; the General Optical Council; the General Osteopathic Council; the General Pharmaceutical Council; the Health and Care Professions Council; the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care; and the Nursing an Midwifery Council.

Full details of this consultation, including the draft regulations, can be found via the following link:


If submitting a response to this consultation, please have regard to the following questions on which the Welsh Government is seeking views:

  • Do you agree that the definitions of clinical consultation and health provision are clear and comprehensive?
  • Is the proposed standard 25 (clinical consultation) practical in the various scenarios described in the consultation document?
  • Is keeping a record, and acting in accordance with the individual’s language preference practical?
  • Do you agree with the concept of Welsh language support during clinical consultations?
  • Do you agree that the definitions of case conferences and health-related provision are clear and comprehensive?
  • Do you agree that case conferences should be treated differently to clinical consultations and other meetings?
  • Does the list of healthcare professionals at paragraph 38 capture everyone who may be involved in a case conference or meeting that involves only healthcare professionals?
  • Do you agree with the approach that an individual can expect compliance with the Welsh language standards imposed (if any) on the body who is physically providing or carrying out the clinical consultation or case conference?
  • Do you agree that health care provision in prisons should be treated in the same way as other health care?
  • Do you agree with the proposed exemptions and the reasons why, e.g. responding to Civil contingencies and emergencies, excluding private hospitals and hospitals outside Wales?
  • Do you agree that contracted primary care services and services of a similar type provided directly by the local health board should be treated in the same way?
  • Do you agree with the proposed new standards that place duties on local health boards in relation to primary care services, both contracted and those provided directly?
  • Do you have any other comments in relation to Welsh language provision in primary care services?
  • We have asked a number of specific questions. If you have any related issues which we have not specifically addressed, please use this space to report them.


[1]  It should be noted that the Welsh Government is not proposing to accept the Welsh Language Commissioner’s recommendation that primary care providers must be subject to the same Welsh language standards as the health boards and trusts that were subject to her standards investigation.”

Just as schools could be offered (through their PTAs) the opportunity to use money on languages other than Welsh, so Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) where they exist, could be asked to say what they feel about this suggested option.

There is no reason to have a universal rule. Local practices/hospitals/trustss could decide differently.

The BMA response to the WG green (white) paper on health gives two areas of highest importance hidden deep in the document. The first is that there should be an honest language around rationing overtly in health care, and the second is that there should be exit interviews for all staff, and retirees especially. Exit interviews should be summarized and depersonalized to health boards and the WG on a regular (annual?) basis. They should be done by an independent outside body on account of trust! These are far more important issues than the irrelevance of the Welsh language.

I hope our local BMA will discuss the suggestion in the autumn, but somehow I doubt it as we have more relevant matters to discuss, and we don’t like to see money/funds/resources misdirected and wasted.

There is already a move towards the “nuclear option” of resignation from the contract in England. This could move to Wales..

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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