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Cymraeg

Improving access

14 March 2008

Pharmacist and customer

Welsh speakers’ access to Welsh-language pharmacy services depends on where they live, says a new research report led by Cardiff University.

The study by the Welsh School of Pharmacy and the University of Glamorgan, examined the role of the Welsh language in community pharmacy in Wales.

Availability of services through the medium of Welsh was found to depend on the distribution of the Welsh-speaking population. Although almost 60 per cent of pharmacies in Wales do not provide an option for customers to speak Welsh with pharmacy staff, this varied widely between different areas of Wales ranging from no pharmacies in areas with a small Welsh-speaking population offering this option, to 100 per cent of pharmacies in areas with a large Welsh-speaking population providing Welsh-language services.

Louise Hughes and colleagues from the Welsh School of Pharmacy and the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, University of Glamorgan also found that while almost all pharmacies whose customers were mostly Welsh speakers offered services in Welsh, almost 60 per cent of pharmacies with some Welsh-speaking customers did not offer such a service. Further, most of the pharmacies offering the service (86.5 per cent) did not formally advertise the fact, meaning that many Welsh-speakers may not realise they have this option.

"Some respondents commented that the value of Welsh language pharmacy services was particularly high for such groups as children and the elderly" said Louise Hughes, of the Welsh School of Pharmacy who led the project. "However, other respondents commented that while they had no demand for Welsh services locally, there was a need for provision of services in Asian and Eastern European languages."

Dr Hughes added, "While it is encouraging that a large number of pharmacies have Welsh-speaking staff, ideally all Welsh speakers should have access to pharmacy services through the medium of Welsh, regardless of where they live. Although it may not be easy, or indeed practical, for all pharmacists working in Wales to be able to speak Welsh, consideration should be given to the needs of Welsh speakers."

Welcoming the study Dr Sue Ambler, Director of the Pharmacy Practice Research Trust which commissioned the study said: "It has raised a number of issues including the wide regional differences in Welsh speaking, the need for more promotion of Welsh-speaking services, the requirements for language training but most importantly, the survey has raised awareness of this important issue with the pharmacists of Wales."