[lg policy] Revealed: Language minister's request to civil servants on how to 'sell' controversial health policy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri May 4 11:04:02 EDT 2018

 Revealed: Language minister's request to civil servants on how to 'sell'
controversial health policy

Campaigners have accused Eluned Morgan of being 'weak', but the Welsh
Government described the criticism as 'nonsense'
Hywel Trewyn <https://www.dailypost.co.uk/authors/hywel-trewyn/>

   - 10:47, 3 MAY 2018
   - Updated10:50, 3 MAY 2018

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A minister for the Welsh language asked civil servants for advice on how to
“sell” a policy that weakened patients’ rights to receive treatment in

Eluned Morgan believed that proposals to deprive people of the right
to hospital
in Welsh would lead to criticism.

But the minister continued with the policy, which was passed by the
Assembly in March.

A limited right for patients to receive face-to-face health care services
in Welsh
was not included, despite a cross-party committee report demanding it and
the measure appearing in draft regulations.

Language campaigners have accused Ms Morgan of being “weak” and the civil
servants of having an agenda “to weaken people’s language rights”.

But the Welsh Government described the criticism as "complete nonsense".

The language standards place a duty on health boards to provide some
services in Welsh.

In a document released following a Freedom of Information request by
pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith
, Ms Morgan seeks the advice of civil servants on how to justify removing a
limited right to receive clinical consultations in Welsh from the
[image: Baroness Morgan feels NFU Cymru should be adopting an unequivocal
position on Britain's EU membership. The union is consulting its membership
first before arriving at a decision]
Eluned Morgan (Image: Richard Swingler)

She asked: “So I want to be clear: if a little old 90-year-old lady from
Gwynedd who speaks poor English goes to hospital and is about to have a
complicated operation, she cannot ‘legally’ ask for someone to explain to
her in Welsh what is happening, and what we are offering is that the Health
Board makes plans so that they can set out to what extent they will be able
to carry out clinical consultations in Welsh 5 years from now, which
presumably could say that they still won’t be able to. (I think this is
quite a tough sell! Any ideas?)”

Heledd Gwyndaf, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: “These papers will
shock many people who are under the impression that the Welsh Government
supports the Welsh language.

“We are less surprised, because we know that the civil service’s agenda is
to weaken people’s language rights.

“What we see is a weak minister who, instead of challenging the regressive
direction of civil servants and showing leadership on the language, asks
them to help her justify steps that will deprive the most vulnerable of
their language rights.

“This is what has happened with language rights in the health service, and
that’s their intention with the proposed Welsh Language Bill.

“The minister is acting as the voice of the establishment, which wants to
weaken the language rights of ordinary people, instead of speaking up for
the people who want to see their rights protected and increased.
[image: Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg chair Heledd Gwyndaf says she'll go to
jail instead of pay TV licence in protest at non-devolved Welsh language TV]
Heledd Gwyndaf

“That’s what’s behind these shocking comments about an older person’s
rights to healthcare in Welsh.

“This shows that the minister and her civil servants knew what they were
doing – they were depriving vulnerable people of their language rights.

“Now that these papers have come to light, the Government must revisit the
Health Standards and their plans to weaken Welsh language legislation.

“Instead of meekly following the lead of her civil servants, the minister
should listen to those who support the interests of the Welsh language, not
powerful institutions and companies.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “This is complete nonsense. The
Minister’s comments demonstrated the intense scrutiny of the Welsh Language
Standards prior to their publication.

“This underlines the difficulties of balancing the rights of individuals to
receive services in Welsh against the practical consideration of delivery
of health services in a complex environment where there is already an issue
of recruitment.”


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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