Rally held to save Southwark PCT's speech therapy posts

Children and parents are to join union members at a rally over cuts to speech and language therapist posts in south London.

Unite says budget cuts will have a huge detrimental impact on dozens of local children in Southwark who will lose the speech support the specialists provide.

Eight speech and language therapists and three assistants are to lose their jobs.

The rally is being held ahead of the union's planned strike on Thursday.

'Real lives'

Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey, who will address the rally, said: "Undetected, untreated speech, language and communication problems can scar for life.

"But the skills of these workers help children blossom. Without them to rely on, children in need will not fulfil their potential."

He added "real people, real lives will feel real pain unless we stand up and say no".

Jummy Dawodu, Associate Director of Specialist Children's Services at NHS Southwark, said the trust is disappointed that a strike has been called because it has been open in describing the possible funding difficulties the service finds itself in and the reasons for it.

"These centre on the ending of a time limited grant that supported the development of children's centres including speech and language therapy," he said.

"As the funding was time limited, staff were employed on fixed term contracts and these are coming to an end. We are working with the staff affected in seeking alternative employment opportunities."

Unite warned that the situation in Southwark is not unique as other speech and language therapy services across England are at risk as Surestart budget cuts start to take place.

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