25 November 2021

The RCSLT has published a statement advising against redeployment of speech and language therapists (SLTs) away from services that are already under extreme pressure.

The statement details the impact of redeploying SLTs on outcomes for service users, which could result in significant risks to service users’ safety and wellbeing and that of their families and carers.

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RCSLT supported appropriate redeployment of speech and language therapists into other roles. Our members were keen to volunteer at this time of national crisis.

However, 20 months later we have seen the impact that the pandemic, including this period of redeployment, has had on speech and language therapy services and the people who rely on them.

Given these risks, the RCSLT does not support the redeployment of speech and language therapists away from services that are already under extreme pressure as they attempt to restore services, reduce waiting lists and meet targets.

The statement outlines the impact on service users and services revealed by RCSLT surveys conducted in 2020 and 2021.

A survey of service users’ experiences during the first UK-wide lockdown, found that 81% of children and young people and 52% of adults received less speech and language therapy during lockdown, which had a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Meanwhile, a survey of SLTs across the UK found that demand had increased since before the pandemic, resulting in services reporting longer waiting times, a reduction in face to face therapy, and a negative impact on staff wellbeing.

Another common issue highlighted was the impact of redeployment of speech and language therapists in the NHS efforts to manage COVID-19.

The full statement explains the RCSLT’s stance on redeployment and summarises key findings from the surveys.
Read the full statement (PDF)

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