Leaders of the controversial Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) to reconfigure the NHS have been accused of ‘a collective snub’ to the UK’s 15,000 speech and language therapists (SALTs) by declining to answer questions on the profession’s future.
Unite, the country’s largest union which has about 5,000 SALT members, said that not one of the lead officers for the 44 STPs across England responded to a letter sent at the beginning of last month asking pertinent questions about individual STP plans for SALTs.
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: “The failure of any of the STP lead officers to reply to the legitimate concerns being asked on behalf of speech and language therapists is a collective snub dished out to this hardworking and dedicated profession. It is a disgrace.
“The whole STP exercise has been marked by obfuscation and lack of transparency – this snub is the latest evidence that STPs are a secretive mechanism designed to impose cuts by stealth and subterfuge.”
Frances Ridgway, chair of Unite speech and language therapists national committee, asked three questions of the STP leads relating to speech and language therapists and their assistants.
- How will you give assurances that services will be maintained and improved under the proposals set out in your STP?
- How do you propose to recruit and retain a highly skilled professional SALT workforce to deliver your proposals?
- How do you propose to consult and engage with the SALT workforce in relation to your STP?
Sarah Carpenter added: “As you can see, these are questions worthy of answers. The lack of respect by STP bosses is a kick in the teeth.”
STPs were at the centre of controversy earlier this week when it was revealed that health bosses had spent at least £17.6 million on advice to formulate the STPs by top management consultancy firms, such as KPMG, McKinsey and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Last month, Unite highlighted expensive ‘guerrilla marketing’ tactics to be used to persuade people in Yorkshire, Humber and north Lincolnshire that ‘the noise’ about NHS cuts needs to be ‘turned down’.
Marketing and communications specialists were asked ‘to express an interest’ in the £10,000 nine-month contract to run from next month for the Humber, Coast and Vale Sustainability and Transformation Plan.