Thursday, 27 May 2010

NHS board consultation on Welsh language branded ‘a sham’ by Wrexham councillor

From today's Daily Post:
The Betsi Cadwaladr health board’s consultation on the Welsh language has been described as “a sham”.

Arfon Jones, Plaid Cymru councillor for Gwersyllt West, Wrexham, criticised Wales’ largest health organisation for planning to approve its language scheme today – the same day as its own consultation on it ends.

Mr Jones Children (Additional Learning, Families and Support) leader on Wrexham Council said: “How on earth can they approve a strategy on the exact day consultation ends? They won’t have time to include consultation comments in the draft before approval and, as such, it has been a sham consultation.

“This strategy is very aspirational and will be very difficult to meet the targets it sets itself, which would suggest that all it does is tick a box to satisfy the Welsh Language Board.”

Cllr Jones claimed none of the board’s top 10 managers spoke Welsh. He said: “You have to ask how representative of our community are these people? They are certainly not answerable to the local community, despite having a billion-pound budget.”

Cllr Jones said far more democratic accountability was needed to ensure the Welsh language got “a fair hearing in our hospitals and health service”.

A board spokesman said: “A progress report will be presented to the board at its meeting on May 27. Any responses to the consultation received at a late stage will be considered before the health board submits the final scheme to the Welsh Language Board.

“Responses to the consultation have applauded the Health Board for conveying a positive message that it is keen to collaborate and work openly and transparently on matters relating to the Welsh language within the health service in North Wales.

“The positive approach of chief executive Mrs Mary Burrows who has shown a genuine commitment to the Welsh language has also been well received.”

He said the managers were recently shortlisted for a Welsh Assembly award for “Promoting the Establishment of a Bilingual Organisation”. Cllr Jones’ claim that none of the 10 top managers spoke Welsh wasn’t disputed.

The board serves 676,000 people across North Wales. A third of its 18,000 staff speak Welsh and courses are offered “to all staff.” The board has three general hospitals – Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor as well as 22 smaller hospitals and over 90 health centres.

No comments: