The Welsh Language Commissioner has announced that regulatory bodies for health professionals will need to comply with Welsh language standards by the end of the year.
This will allow members of health professions such as doctors, nurses and dentists to register with their regulator through the medium of Welsh. The standards will also create rights in terms of participating in legal proceedings in Welsh, and further rights through service and operating standards.
This will be the first time that Efa Gruffudd Jones has imposed Welsh language standards on organisations since taking up her position as Welsh Language Commissioner earlier this year. This is also the first time that the Commissioner has been able to extend rights through the standards system since 2019 following the approval of these new Regulations by the Senedd on 31 October 2022.
The nine bodies who will now come under the standards are:
- The General Chiropractic Council
- The General Dental Council
- The General Pharmaceutical Council
- The General Medical Council
- The Nursing and Midwifery Council
- The General Optical Council
- The General Osteopathic Council
- The Health and Care Professions Council
- The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care.
Welsh Language Commissioner Efa Gruffudd Jones said,
"The aim of the standards is to ensure that the Welsh language is treated no less favourably than the English language in Wales and that the Welsh language is clearly promoted and facilitated. In health matters, it is crucial that people are offered a service in their language of choice and this step today of imposing a compliance notice on the regulatory bodies for health professionals expands the rights of workers in the sector.
"In order for the Welsh language to survive and for it to be a living language that can be used on a daily basis, it needs to be seen prominently in all areas of work within our communities and within different sectors.
“I would like to thank the regulatory bodies for their willingness to collaborate with us in preparing for this new phase and we will assist and advise them on the next part of the journey."
Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said:
“People are at the heart of what we do, and it’s vital that everyone is able to engage with us and benefit from our role – protecting the public by upholding the high standards of nursing and midwifery practice everyone has the right to expect.
“By implementing these new standards, we’ll ensure that Welsh speakers are supported to share their experiences of nursing and midwifery care with us, and access the key information and resources that help them understand our role and what it means for them. We look forward to working closely with the Welsh Language Commissioner as the new standards are implemented.”
Following a statutory process, the Commissioner has issued a compliance notice to nine health professions’ regulatory bodies, which set duties for the Welsh language and this will come into effect from December 2023.