No 'clarity' over children's therapy service shake-up

Plans to put children's therapy services in County Durham and Darlington out to tender "lack clarity", a union has said.

About 80 staff at the children's Speech, Language and Occupational Therapy unit have been told it will be "decommissioned" in December.

Health chiefs said they would "re-procure" the service because "some services were not meeting local needs".

Unison said they needed to know the implications for care and jobs.

Unison regional officer Sheila Wilson said: "What we're concerned about here is the procurement exercise and what this will all mean for the service."

She accepted members' jobs might be secure under a new employer but was concerned about "the time it takes and the anxiety it causes".

"I think this is where there's a lack of clarity and our members are concerned they want to provide the quality service that they thought they were already providing," she said.

Private companies or charities can bid to run the service from next year.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust officials are meeting with staff and unions later to discuss the implications of the plans.

The trust, which is responsible for commissioning health services, said the the aim was to ensure services provide improved access, quality, consistency and better value for money.

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