Comments are invited on the second edition of NHS Highland’s Gaelic Language Plan, which is now out for public consultation.
Under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, NHS Highland has a statutory duty to play its part in promoting the language. The plan sets out a formal structure for how the board will implement the plan and was informed by a staff survey and support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig. NHS Highland hope it will be further shaped through the public consultation.
In Skye & Raasay, Tiree and Colonsay one in five people living in these communities speak Gaelic, and just over half speak Gaelic in the Western Isles, which, although not in the board area NHS Highland does provide a number of services for people of the Western Isles as well as in Raigmore Hospital.
Elaine Mead, Chief Executive for NHS Highland said: “As the biggest employer in Highland and Argyll & Bute there are many opportunities and benefits to promoting the Gaelic language throughout our area. It is important we strive to offer respect for Gaelic language and I am committed to do what I can to raise awareness. I look forward to hearing how people feel we can have a positive impact.”
Commenting on NHS Highland’s role in promoting Gaelic, Michael Foxley, non executive director of NHS Highland and long-time champion of safeguarding Gaelic Language said: “If the long term future of Gaelic in Highland and Argyll and Bute is to be secure then public bodies, like NHS highland have to play their part. We did not deliver on our commitments in our original plan as intended but through the delivery of this plan I hope we can remedy that.”
Etta MacKay, a fluent first-language Gaelic speaker, Lead Partnership Representative and former midwife, based at Raigmore Hospital, added: “I am delighted to play a part in promoting Gaelic for NHS Highland. It will be beneficial for all sorts of reasons including patients getting the opportunity to have their consultations in Gaelic if they so wish. This is particularly important for children and people with dementia who have Gaelic as their first language. The staff survey has generated quite a bit of interest and enthusiasm and I really feel we can make a difference.”
The consultation will be open for a period of six weeks from 19 June 2017 to 31 July 2017. The board is looking for comments by 23 July 2017.
If anyone would like to comment on the plan they can complete a simple questionnaire in English or Gaelic or do so here.
After consultation, the draft plan is required to be submitted to Bòrd na Gàidhlig by 18 September 2017 for consideration and approval. Once approved, they will move on to publication and delivery.