Some recent comments from speech and language therapists:
- I have become disillusioned by higher management who tell us how to streamline our department for more efficient output. We are made to sound like a factory, but a good therapist takes time to learn about individual families and to support their individual needs… in the long run this proves to be more beneficial in terms of time and therapy outcomes.
- Decisions are being taken by people who understand nothing about clinical services and care even less.
- In 30 years of NHS practice, I have never known a time when staff are so demoralised, frustrated, depressed and generally stressed out by the constant demands, not just to do with our caseload, but the systems which leave us feeling watched, monitored and totally unsupported at every turn.
- Would I recommend speech and language therapy as a profession? Yes, but only if someone is not particularly ambitious.
I’m a speech and language therapist by profession. It’s a job I love. Like a lot of speech and language therapists, I believe communication is a central part of what it means to be a human being. I work with children with disabilities, and it’s incredibly rewarding to help a child get their message across, and to support a parent or teacher in understanding what the child wants to communicate. For therapists working with adults, there is equal job satisfaction in giving support to someone who may have impaired communication following a stroke or head injury, for example.
Tragically, this is a profession that is now sliding into crisis. The ‘Agenda for Change’ pay package introduced in 2004/05 was very damaging for us, effectively reversing an important equal pay victory back in 2000. Since then, we’ve been badly hit by the cuts and redundancies sweeping across the NHS.
If Trusts axe doctors and nurses, the public is more likely to notice. If it’s speech and language therapists, they reckon on not many people noticing. Tragically, employers don’t seem too fussed by namby-pamby stuff about communication being a human right.
The document ‘Unite response’ is the Union’s response to the ‘Bercow Review’, written by me on behalf of our Speech and Language Therapy Occupational Advisory Committee. John Bercow is a (Tory) MP asked by the Government to review speech and language therapy provision.
This is a genuinely frightening document, and worth a read. Speech and language therapists report job loss and worse pay and conditions for staff – and a steady dumbing down of the services we provide. The agenda is one of worse clinical care for very vulnerable people.
It’s more clear than ever that we need a Union that’s prepared to stand up to employers who shove through cuts – and willing to challenge the Government that wants to carve up the NHS and hand out the more profitable pieces to big business. The people we work with deserve much better than that.