With the NHS, and the health and care system more widely, facing unprecedented challenges across the UK, speech and language therapists will want to step up and play their part, and the RCSLT wants to support this.

This may involve full or part-time redeployment but is just as likely to be a few hours on a paid or voluntary basis, during usual working hours or at the weekend.

Working as a vaccinator

If it works for the service or setting you are part of in terms of cover and support, then there is nothing to stop you working as a vaccinator. This could also apply to independent therapists and the recently retired, for example.

It is important that you are given the relevant training and supervision to undertake this role. The HCPC has developed some guidance regarding scope of practice in this situation – visit the HCPC website for details.

The most common ways vaccines are administered by HCPC professionals is via Patient Group Directions (PGDs.) These are instructions from a prescriber to a named individual to give a certain medicine to a group of people. The professions listed by the HCPC include speech and language therapists.

If you are not administering vaccinations as part of a PGD, you will need to check with your employer regarding indemnity insurance to administer vaccinations, as this falls outside the normal scope of practice of a speech and language therapist and would therefore fall under the NHS redeployment of staff scheme.

Redeployment

You will have responsibilities to your employer who may want to redeploy you. You may also want to play your part.

At a time of national crisis, there is nothing to stop you stepping up to work in any role that is deemed helpful. It will need to work for your service or setting in terms of cover and support, and you will need to check your indemnity insurance cover if working outside a normal SLT role.

There are important things to note depending on which area you work in.

Redeployment when working within adult services (acute/community settings)

The experience of the first wave is that we also have a responsibility to patients and service users with conditions other than COVID-19 – for example stroke. Redeployment should ensure that essential SLT services can continue and should, where possible, make appropriate use of the specialist skills that SLTs can offer.

Redeployment from paediatric, mental health, adults with learning disabilities (ALD) services

The experience of the first wave is that we also have a responsibility to vulnerable children and to adults in the community. Children’s life chances are being irreparably damaged, which is why there has been clear UK government guidance that children’s therapists should not be redeployed. SLTs working with adults with learning disability and autism, for example, may likewise have a critical role in safety, safeguarding and wellbeing.

As with adult services, any redeployment should ensure that essential speech and language therapy services can continue, and should, where possible, make appropriate use of the specialist skills that SLTs can offer.

Read the RCSLT redeployment guidance for more information.

Other models of support and sharing ideas for new ways of working

We are aware that there is extreme pressure on the NHS workforce as a result of the increase in patients with COVID-19 and would like to support members to share examples of:

  • How you have re-purposed your service to support this
  • What roles you are undertaking that are not traditional SLT roles
  • Examples of SLTs (including assistant SLTs) supporting vaccinations/patient flow
  • Your reflections/what you have learnt from delivering these roles

For further information please contact info@rcslt.org.