Plaid Cymru has called for the annulment of “flawed” Welsh language regulations in primary care.
According to Plaid Cymru, the regulations do not provide assurances for Welsh language health care provision - even when that is a matter of clinical need.
Yesterday, Plaid Cymru's leader, Adam Price, criticized the regulations and said that those who wish to receive health provision through the medium of Welsh were treated as ‘secondary’.
Today, Plaid Cymru is holding a debate to annul the regulations because they do not ensure a legal right nor entitlement to a Welsh language service for patients.
The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee reported that they could not support the new regulations because there was not enough time to scrutinize them. They went on to say that the Welsh Government's failure to allow sufficient time was a "serious failure".
Welsh Government Health Minister Vaughan Gething faced further criticism for not attending the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee to answer the committee's questions about the regulations. He also rejected the request of committee member, Delyth Jewell AM, to discuss the way forward before today's debate.
Plaid Cymru AM Dr Dai Lloyd said,
“The primary care sector - dentists, opticians, pharmacists and GPs - are responsible for up to ninety per cent of patients' experiences in the health service. These are people at their most vulnerable where receiving treatment in Welsh can be essential -for example, people with dementia or young children who cannot speak any language other than Welsh.
“The Government promised last year that there would be specific regulations to ensure rights to the Welsh language in primary care through service contracts. But here we are today looking at regulations that do not give any statutory right to receive face-to-face services in Welsh to patients.
“There's nothing here: no rights, no expectation, no change.
Sian Gwenllian AM and Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for the Welsh language added,
“A quarter of a century since the passing of the 1993 Welsh Language Act, 8 years since the passing of the Welsh Language Measure 2011 which established official status for the language, and 7 years since the Government adopted 'Mwy na Geiriau' which committed it to offering Welsh language health services. Proactively - these tiny regulations do not even guarantee the most basic thing to record the patient's language need. Something essential for planning a service in Welsh.
“The regulations do not guarantee the same right of value and neither do they provide a guarantee for a Welsh language service - even when that is a matter of clinical need. That in itself shows how deficient these regulations are, and why they need to be revoked and reshaped.
“The rights of the most vulnerable people in society to access health services in their own language are at stake.
“It is time for much more robust regulations to protect and extend rights to the Welsh language. It is time to revoke these regulations to ensure that the strengthened duties are re-drafted, with appropriate consultation, in a way that treats Welsh-speaking patients, and Members of this Senedd who represent the public, with the deserved respect.