A health and social care service in which people are actively offered their care in Welsh, is the ambition of a new plan launched by the Health Minister, Eluned Morgan this week.
Workforce planning, staff training, digital systems and changing the culture are key elements of the More than just words five-year action plan, working towards the Welsh Government’s aim of ensuring that everyone who wants to can receive their care in the Welsh language.
Speaking at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Tregaron today (2 August) 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 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.”