A CROSS Hands GP has spoken of the benefits of patients being able to access care while speaking Welsh.

In over 90% of cases, a patient’s journey with the health service begins with the GP; and it’s vital that the patient is able to explain their symptoms in as much detail as possible to the doctor, and that the doctor and the patient can understand each other.

Dr Llinos Roberts is a GP in Cross Hands and Tumble, and can recall many situations where communicating in Welsh has proved crucial to her understanding of a patient’s need. One example which stands out for her is when a young man came to see her, having been living with symptoms of depression for several months.

Dr Llinos explains: “When we talked, he told me that he had thoughts about self-harming and suicidal thoughts. Of course, this was a sensitive conversation, and it was very difficult for him to share his feelings with me.

“He had seen another doctor a few weeks earlier, and he admitted to me that he had not discussed these feelings with the doctor for one reason, and one reason only, and that was because the conversation had not taken place through the medium of Welsh.

“He had not felt comfortable and confident to discuss these issues in English. The fact that he had talked to me and had discussed his feelings with me enabled me as a doctor to offer him the medical care that he needed – without knowing those details, I would have not have been able to do so.”

Since May 30 this year, all health boards in Wales have a duty to record which language an individual wishes to speak when becoming an inpatient in a hospital, and to inform all ward staff of the language preference. There is also a duty to plan to increase the Welsh language provision across Wales.

A mother who experienced the value of a Welsh language service when giving birth, Eiry Miles, from Llanddarog, said:“When the decision was made to rush me to the theatre, the doctor scared me, as she said something about me being in ‘mortal danger’. I was in a great deal of panic and very very worried. However, the midwife was there with me, and she spoke Welsh. She was fantastic in reassuring me. Being able to have this discussion in my mother tongue was something very special. “

For more, visit welshlanguagecommissioner.wales.