A BANGOR nurse has spoken of the value of the Welsh language in her work helping people with cancer.

Manon Williams is the cancer division matron at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

She leads nurse teams on the cancer wards at Ysbyty Gwynedd and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and says communicating in Welsh "makes a big difference" to the physical and mental wellbeing of patients and their families.

Manon said: "With cancer, the information that a patient receives can be very complex.

"If the doctor or consultant doesn't speak Welsh, we can take the time to talk to people in their own language and make sure that they have understood the information about treatment.

"This is also very important if a patient and family receive bad news."

North Wales hospitals treat adults with cancer, and some may be people who are uncomfortable speaking English, or are the parents of young children who are monolingual Welsh speakers more comfortable speaking Welsh.

Manon said: "Seeing their mam or dad sick is of course a daunting experience for a child.

"A large part of our work, as well as caring for the patient, is to make the atmosphere as natural and comfortable as possible for children; and asking them about their day at school, their friends or favourite toys is a part of that.

"We are also there when bad news is conveyed to children, and support the parents as they prepare their children to grieve.

Manon says she has seen how a Welsh-language service can make the difference between life and death.

"When patients leave the ward after treatment, we give them a bilingual information sheet and a phone number to contact us if they don't feel well.

"When they phone, we need to know as much detail as possible about how they feel in order to be able to carry out an assessment on the spot.

"We’ve seen that people can explain their symptoms better in Welsh if that is their first language, and accurate descriptions are vital if we are to decide on a course of action.

"With something like sepsis, for example, we have to move fast and call them in urgently; so communicating clearly can make a huge difference."

She also explained that there are some clinical situations where the illness can affect the linguistic ability of patients.

"You hear more about this, perhaps, with stroke, but it can also happen with some types of brain tumour, where a patient loses the ability to communicate in their second language.

"Sometimes, the different medications we give them can effect them mentally and mean that they are only able to express themselves in Welsh."

Since May 30, 2019. hospitals across Wales' health boards have a duty to record which language inpatients wish to speak and to make sure that all ward staff are aware of the language choice.

To learn more about the rights to use Welsh within the health sector, go to www.welshlanguagecommissioner.wales/myrights