We’re always being advised that we should take our medicines as prescribed by our doctors and pharmacists and that we should follow the instructions given on the pill bottle or packet to the letter.

One way of ensuring that we do this is to give the instructions in clear language that is well understood – that’s why cautionary instructions are to be available in Welsh for the first time.

A Welsh language or bilingual service is vital for the welfare of Welsh speaking patients, according to an enquiry by the Welsh Language Commissioner. A recommendation endorsed by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Wales is for bilingual labels on prescription medicines to be made available to patients.

A team comprising language specialists and pharmacists at Bangor University and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) has made the first step by translating 30 cautionary instructions given to patients on prescription medicines.

These will now become available to all pharmacies and doctors, increasing the amount of health support provided in Welsh within the NHS in Wales.

The labels are available in the online edition of the British National Formulary, the standard pharmaceutical reference text used by prescribers, nurses and pharmacists within the NHS, and will become available in the next printed edition.

Mair Martin, Lead Pharmacist for Medicines Information at BCUHB, said,Following medicines instructions carefully can make a significant difference to health outcomes and safe use of medicines. We hope that this first step towards making all cautionary and advice labels available in Welsh will lead to a greater understanding of and adherence to the prescribing instructions.’

Source: Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board