Joe has revealed that the number of children in North Ayrshire receiving direct Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) support has reduced by 34% in the last year.
This follows North Ayrshire Council’s decision to cut its funding contribution towards SLT back in 2013. At that time the impact assessment presented by the SNP administration stated that cutting SLT funding would not have an impact on the quality of the service as NHS Ayrshire and Arran would continue to deliver the service unchanged. The reality has been different – the North Ayrshire SLT team has been reduced by 5 FTE staff which has resulted in this huge reduction in the number of children receiving support.
Councillor Cullinane, who previously got the Council’s Scrutiny Committee to look into the impact of the SLT cut, raised the issue at the Council meeting on 9th September. He challenged the SNP administration to commit money from the Attainment Challenge Fund to invest in SLT. They have promised to do so.
Speaking after his question Councillor Cullinane said,
“The number of children who require SLT support hasn’t dropped by 34% in the last year, it is the number of children who are receiving support that has fallen.”
“The SNP administration told us that they could cut their funding contribution and the service wouldn’t change as NHS Ayrshire and Arran would continue to deliver it. That’s clearly not been the case and for over a year now I have campaigning for fresh investment in SLT from the Council. The Council have put in place temporary funding to support 2 SLT staff to deliver a specific project but still the number of children has fallen by 34%. Imagine what would happen to the numbers once these temporary posts went if fresh investment wasn’t made?”
“With North Ayrshire Council securing millions from the Attainment Challenge Fund I believe it is only right that some of this money is invested in SLT. The SNP administration has promised to do so but the devil will be in the detail. They are only committing around £55,000 and it is proposed that it is invested in training existing staff. Speech and Language Therapists train for many years to deliver expert SLT services, we can’t simply provide training courses to existing staff and think that will deliver the same level of SLT as before. NHS Ayrshire and Arran are already clear that there is an inequity between SLT services in North Ayrshire and the other two Ayrshire local authorities. What we need from the SNP administration is a commitment that every child who requires SLT support will receive it.”