Joe Cullinane

Scottish Labour Councillor for Kilwinning

Reason 28: Campaign against cuts to Speech and Language Therapy

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When setting its budgets for 2013/14 and 2014/15 the SNP administration of North Ayrshire Council ceased its financial contribution to the Speech and Language Therapy Service.

At the time Councillors were told that the statutory universal service delivered by the NHS would continue to meet the needs of local children. The reality was very different.

When Joe was approached by parents whose children couldn't access SLT support, who were being told that they could provide the support themselves he knew something was wrong.

Through his work he unveiled a paper prepared by NHS Ayrshire and Arran to North Ayrshire Council detailing what the Council's SLT funding supported and what the potential impact of cutting that contribution could be.

That paper revealed that NHS Ayrshire and Arran warned the SNP led Council that removing the funding could lead to fewer face to face contacts between therapists and children in North Ayrshire, potentially leave us in breach of the 18 weeks waiting list target and impact on the delivery of early intervention initiatives.

Joe used that paper to secure an enquiry into the decision by the Council's Scrutiny Committee. However, the enquiry didn't lead to increased funding for SLT.

One year after the cut took effect Joe asked for a comparable analysis of how many children in North Ayrshire were receiving SLT - the number had fallen 34% in just one year.

That's not a drop of 34% in the number of children who require SLT support, it is a 34% drop in the number receiving it.

Joe used a question at the Council to challenge the SNP administration to invest funds from the Attainment Challenge fund into SLT. They promised to do so.

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However, Joe continues to monitor the service and will push for the funding it needs.

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