Socialist Worker

Speech therapists to strike against NHS cuts

Issue No. 2237

The Tory pledge to keep the NHS safe from cuts is revealed as a lie this week as speech therapists in Southwark, south London, prepare to strike.

Workers are livid that health bosses have chosen to cut their jobs, meaning services will be slashed for some of the most vulnerable children.

Eight highly skilled therapists are set to lose their jobs, meaning that life for hundreds of people who find communicating difficult is set to become harder still.

Evidence shows that early intervention gives children a better chance of adapting and succeeding in mainstream schools, making friends and living a happy and fulfilling life.

Alongside dozens of others in the Unite union, Steve Hack will be on the picket line on Thursday. He told Socialist Worker that the work they do is vital.

“When children who have difficulty speaking arrive at nursery, they often find it difficult to make friends and start learning to read and write,” he said.

“Often, from a very early age, they become isolated. As they get older they are more likely to find themselves excluded from school and branded ‘troublemakers’.”

Steve says that many strikers believe that the health authority is swinging the axe at the service in the belief that children with disabilities, and the professionals who support them, are unlikely to fight back.

“What speech and language therapists do matters,” he said. “But our bosses don’t see it that way.

“They think that young people with special needs, and the people who work with them, are easy targets for cuts.”

By preparing to strike, speech therapists in Southwark are battling to save a vital service—and raising a banner for every health worker whose job is under attack.

Unite regional officer Richard Munn said: “Vulnerable people in Southwark will find it even harder to access early intervention therapies necessary and feel they are effectively being abandoned by this government.”

Rally in support of striking speech therapists. Wednesday 2 February, 6.30pm, Walworth Methodist Church, 54 Camberwell Road, SE5 0EN. Send messages of support to [email protected]

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Tue 1 Feb 2011, 17:11 GMT
Issue No. 2237
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