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Pharmacy row: "Welsh speaking patients sidelined"

The Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws says Welsh speakers are disregarded. Credit: ITV News

The Welsh Language Commissioner has called on health professionals to work together in order to meet the language needs of patients.

The call follows a case where a pharmacy in Bangor declined to give medication to a patient because the prescription was partly written in Welsh.

The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, said, "We often hear the patient is at the centre of the health service in Wales, but this case highlights that the needs of Welsh speaking patients remain on the sidelines and are disregarded.

"It is the health service’s responsibility to find solutions to any obstacles, not to create barriers for patients," she added.

Prescription in Welsh refused by supermarket

Alys & Aled Man say Morrisons would not dispense the prescription for their son. Credit: ITV News/Ian Lang

A north Wales couple say they would like an apology from a supermarket giant after they were told a prescription for urgently needed medicine for their 15 month-old son wasn't acceptable because the prescription wasn't in English.

Alys and Aled Man needed steroid drugs for their son Harley who was suffering respiratory problems. The prescription from their doctor was in English and Welsh but when they tried to get it from Morrisons supermarket in Bangor they were told it needed to be in English.

"The Morrisons pharmacist told me that he couldn't do it because it was in Welsh and he didn't understand it", said Alys. "I don't understand this as I am Welsh, live in Wales and there should not have been a problem", said Alex.

The delay meant Harley had to wait two hours to get the medicine he needed. He spent last night in Ysbyty Gwyndd but is now out of hospital.

A Morrisons spokesperson told ITV Cymru Wales, “There are strict guidelines in place regarding the dispensing of medicines from pharmacies. They state that prescriptions should be written in English or bilingually.

"To make absolutely sure the correct dosage was dispensed, our pharmacist asked for a bi-lingual prescription, which once received, enabled him to supply the medicine to the customer.”

You can watch Ian Lang's report with the family tonight on ITV Cymru Wales at 1800.

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Morrisons: Prescription procedures "followed correctly"

The supermarket that would not dispense a prescription at its Bangor store because it was in Welsh has defended its actions. Morrisons says under dispensing guidelines prescriptions must be in one common language and not a mixture.

We have followed all procedures correctly in line with dispensing regulations and the law.

– Morrisons

MP: Welsh prescription refusal "is a disgrace"

The MP for Arfon, Hywel Williams, says the treatment of the Mann family whose prescription was refused by Morrisons for being in Welsh is "wholly unacceptable".

I will do everything I can to support their case. The Morrisons pharmacy provides a service on behalf of the NHS - a public body - which is obliged to conform to Welsh language regulations. It is a disgrace that a young boy in need of medication should be denied this purely because of a supermarket's failure to allow people to access basic, day-to-day services in their mother tongue.

The prescription was bilingual and Morrisons’ behaviour was completely inexcusable. Local people are understandably outraged, as Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s plan to hold a protest shows. I will be keeping a close eye on any developments and I send Harley and his family best wishes for a speedy recovery in the meantime.

– Hywel Williams MP

Parents anger as store refuses Welsh prescription

The boy's family claims Morrisons in Bangor would not dispense the prescription. Credit: Aled Mann/Facebook

A family from north Wales claim a prescription for their sick son was refused by Morrisons supermarket in Bangor because it was in Welsh.

Aled Mann says on his Facebook page that the family took the prescription in on Tuesday as Harley had a chest infection but because it wasn't in English the supermarket said it could not dispense the drugs.

"No other pharmacist in Bangor or Caernarfon had what he needed so we had to go back to the surgery to get it changed," says Aled, then adding in Welsh "Gwarthus o beth yn gwlad ein hunain!!", meaning "It's a shameful thing in our country".

Later he reported: "Unfortunately Harley was admitted to hospital this morning. Who knows, if he'd have had the steroid tablets when he needed them it could have been avoided!!"

Local community councillor Arfon Wyn said the news was "disturbing".

"The parents were forced to dash back to the surgery to try and get the prescription changed. But from what I understand this was too late and the child had to be rushed to Ysbyty Gwynedd for treatment," he told ITV Cymru Wales.

"This is totally diabolical. It is the trend of these large supermarkets not to employ bilingual local people and so such terrible events as this can take place," he added.

The councillor says he plans to organise a protest of councillors and local business people at the store later today to demand a full investigation and a full apology.

A spokesperson for Morrisons told ITV Cymru Wales, "The pharmacy team are looking into it and are working with the store and area pharmacy team to find out what has happened."

Early years 'vital' for Welsh language skills

The Foundation Phase is a vital part of developing young children's skills in speaking, reading and writing in Welsh.

We have found that the rate at which children acquire Welsh language skills is affected by whether or not children are learning alongside others who share similar backgrounds in home language.

Our report shows that in classes with mixed linguistic backgrounds, children from non-Welsh speaking homes sometimes progress too slowly and the progress of pupils from Welsh-speaking homes can be hindered.

– Ann Keane, Chief Inspector at Estyn - Education watchdog

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New report highlights progress made in Welsh lessons

Progress has been made in children learning Welsh, says report Credit: PA

More than 80 per cent of children aged 3 to 7 are making good progress in learning Welsh as a first language in Welsh-medium schools.

A report out today by education watchdog Estyn also reports standards in pupils' language, literacy and communication skills are similar to those in English-medium schools, and are in line with the expected level at that age.

The new report, Welsh in the Foundation Phase, considers standards in developing language in Welsh-medium schools taking into account whether pupils come from a Welsh-speaking home or not.

It also considers the balance between formal language development and informal activities which is a core part of the Foundation Phase approach to teaching and learning.

Language Commissioner wants urgent S4C meeting

The Welsh Language Commissioner is calling for an urgent meeting with the UK Culture Secretary to discuss concerns about the funding of S4C. Meri Huws has written to Maria Miller ahead of tomorrow's Spending Review and following reports that the channel is set to lose further UK Government funding.

In her letter, Ms Huws says that S4C 'should not be treated as simply another television channel' because it is 'a unique public service broadcaster serving a minority language community,' a service that she says would be 'extremely difficult' for the private sector to provide.

The Commissioner also says that further reductions to S4C's funding could damage 'plurality in the media in Wales' and harm ongoing efforts to encourage the Welsh language to grow. She's asked the Culture Secretary for an urgent meeting or phone conversation as soon as possible.

Fund to boost Welsh language technology

A £750,000 fund aimed at encouraging Welsh speakers to use Welsh language digital media and technology has been launched at the Urdd Eisteddfod.

Grants totalling £250,000 a year will be available over the next three years for initiatives such as Welsh-language apps.

To ensure that the Welsh language thrives in the 21st century and that Welsh speakers are fully able to participate as digital citizens, we must make Welsh language technology and digital media readily available.

We cannot allow the Welsh language to be left behind by the latest technologies, and should instead use these digital resources as a way of demonstrating that the language is a relevant, modern, and creative medium.

– Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

The fund is open for applications via the Welsh Government website.

Calls for new Welsh-medium secondary school to be built in Newport

There are calls for action over the lack of provision for Welsh-medium secondary education in Newport.

At the moment, there are three Welsh-medium primary schools in the city, but secondary school pupils travel to a site in Torfaen.

The school is due to reach capacity in three years as it services four local councils, leaving parents wondering what provisions will be made for their children after 2016.

Richard Morgan reports.

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