Wednesday, 16 May 2012

More than just words

The blog 'inside out' in a post called 'Language of priorities' mentions an article in the Western Mail and the British Medical Associations response to the Welsh Government's proposed framework ‘More Than Just Words’.

Apparently the BMA think: “The time, and financial situation, is not right for imposing language duties on NHS organisations aiming to deliver world-class healthcare, but which in reality are many light-years away from that.”

Blog Menai also has a post on this subject.

Now I'm not sure what planet the BMA live on, but I've chosen to ignore their views, especially when reported via a third party being in this case the Western Mail.

What's far more important is the Welsh Governments proposed framework and the needs of welsh speaking patients.

To quote from the executive summary :

The Welsh Government is committed to delivering high quality health, social services and social care services that are centred on user’s needs. Our vision is to provide a service that will satisfy the needs of Welsh speakers and their families or carers, by ensuring they are able to receive services in their own language through the care process....

Many service users are very vulnerable, so placing a responsibility on them to ask for services through the medium of Welsh is unfair.


In other words when someone is ill; especially the elderly, they are vulnerable and afraid - and you would expect as a fundamental right that their basic needs be protected, including I would most strongly argue the right to be spoken to in their native language.

The executive summary quotes the experience of a patient whom says "Many of the staff had no idea about the need to understand the emotional needs of a Welsh speaking patient who was confused"

To me it's straight forward a welsh speaking patient shouldn't need to ask for a welsh service, it should be offered to them as a matter of course. Not that everyone in the health service in Wales needs to speak welsh, but for example in the absence of a relative or career a hospital based welsh speaking companion would assist greatly by reducing the worry and confusion of the ill patient.

The consultation on the 'Strategic Framework for Welsh Language Services in Health, Social Services and Social Care' which is now closed can currently be viewed on the  Welsh Government website.

As I said the framework is called 'more than just words', sadly it seems the BMA think language is not an aid to recovery, and as such what they say to me are just words. 

3 comments:

kp said...

I'm pretty sure these old, vulnerable, ill people spend much of their 'better' days watching television. And more than likely that means watching ITV or BBC.

So it is unlikely that there is a problem with understanding spoken English.

No, it seems to me you have hit the nail on the head, these people want/need to be able to express themselves in their own language. An it is doubtless much the same for the speakers of many other languages too.

The medical profession has no need to speak any language other than English. We just need to make a few more translators available.

A great opportunity for the private sector.

The Red Flag said...

KP, you're only an immigrant. Mind your own business.

Anonymous said...

In a speech (discussing the David Gray/ Dr. Daniel Ubani Case) on the opening day of the BMA’s annual conference in Brighton, in June 2010, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of the BMA, said that it was wrong that foreign doctors from within the European Union did not face the same scrutiny as British doctors.

He said: “We seem to be able to do little or nothing to check that doctors from overseas – especially from Europe – meet the proper standards of language and competence.”

He added: ''It cannot be acceptable for poorly trained, badly regulated doctors whose knowledge of English is about as good as my knowledge of Chinese, to be able to practise - virtually unchallenged - in the UK.'' Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA Conference 28. 06. 2010



This is in marked contrast to the BMA’s attitude to the Welsh language.

…BMA Cymru Wales, while supporting the rights of people to receive their care in Welsh, says in its response: ‘The ability for a doctor to speak Welsh may be a legitimate consideration in some areas of Wales in the recruitment process but that does not merit it being a deciding factor everywhere.

‘We believe that moves to strengthen the Welsh language in healthcare should be balanced with the need to operate an effective and fully staffed service.’ BMA News, 11. 05. 2012


According to the BMA, it is not acceptable for English speaking patients to be treated by doctors who cannot competently speak English. As a Welsh speaker, the BMA believes that my rights to be treated by a doctor who speaks Welsh, ‘.. should be balanced with the need to operate an effective and fully staffed service.’

I have one simple question to ask the chairman of the BMA

Why does the BMA believe that English-speaking patients should be treated differently, to those of us who speak other languages in these islands?


Cymro