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editorial & letters

LETTERS continued

Assistants are not a threat Senior SLTAs employed by Walsall Teaching PCT have been assimilated onto Band 5 following Agenda for Change (AfC). As

This has been underpinned by the Department of Health’s (DH) human resource strategy and, in particular, the concept of the Skills Escalator.

DH’s Knowledge and Skills Framework, which includes a level of autonomous working and responsibility in liaising with other professionals, parents and carers.

members of the team, we would like to clarify why we believe this grading to be appropriate and fair.

There is no confusion here about the role of the SLTA since the banding reflects the development of additional clinical skills and qualifications. All of the senior assistants have a minimum of 10 years’ experience in speech and language therapy and all have skills that could not be immediately replaced by an NQT SLT, for example, a Makaton local tutor and a bilingual specialist.

Working collaboratively with SLTAs should not be viewed as a threat to our career structure or to SLTs’ professional qualifications, since the two roles complement each other effectively and will inevitably lead to an area of overlap in pay and conditions.

SLTAs make an invaluable contribution to the team in a range of ways. They demonstrate holistic working and advanced interpersonal skills, drawing from many work environments. SLTAs are required to meet the competencies specified in the

The debate about the structure of the profession should be based not on the future of assistants but on the recognition of specialist and management posts, which, nationally, have not been reflected in AfC.

This letter was compiled by representatives from all bands including both SLTs and SLTAs.

Elizabeth Wassall, principal SLT Jayne Sedgewick, senior SLTA Walsall Teaching PCT

SLTAs: tell us your AfC experiences As a group of STLAs from mid-Sussex, we were interested to read the letter (‘Equal banding for SLTAs’, Bulletin, January 2006, p4). Some of us have been employed for well over 10 years and have completed a very intensive two-year in-house training course and were at Level 3 Technical Instructor (TI) grade. Under Agenda for Change (AfC) we have been assimilated onto Band 3. However, the neighbouring trust’s assistants (TI3) have been regraded to Band 4. This shows the huge anomalies

that appear to have occurred with AfC: the SLTAs referred to in the letter were given Band 5.

We realise that this must be of concern to newly-qualified therapists (NQTs); however, some assistants are highly trained and skilled, work alone and have a high level of clinical knowledge, as well as offering lots of support to NQTs. These skills ought to be reflected in their grading. We would be interested in seeing a copy of the SLTA’s job description referred to in the letter.

We believe the problem is compounded because nobody knows the true numbers of

SLTAs employed, their skills or exact jobs.

If any other STLAs would like to contact us about this issue, please do. We meet twice a year in the Surrey/Sussex area, and have a clinical focus for one meeting and a general agenda for the other.

We find the networking invaluable and welcome any new members. Our next meeting is on 26 April in Croydon. Please email: cmorgan@wsgfl.org.uk for more information.

Carole Morgan On behalf of the group

Realising the Vision

10-12 May 2006

University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Northern Ireland

Book your place now for the speech and language therapy conference of 2006

Realising the Vision will explore new and challenging ways of working within a rapidly changing and increasingly diverse health and social care system. Delegates will be able to choose from a packed programme of over 80 oral and 80 poster presentations. The conference will share a vision of the models of care and practice in an evolving NHS and explore, in various specialties and traditions, the clinical, management and research issues currently at the forefront of the profession. This will impact on the scope for future change and developments likely to affect everyday practice. The RCSLT will also launch Communicating Quality 3 on 12 May. For further information, contact the University of Ulster’s Continuing Professional Development Unit.Tel: 028 9036 6680 or email: cpdu@ulster.ac.uk or visit the conference website via the RCSLT homepage (www.rcslt.org)

Over 300 delegates already confirmed: book your place before it’s too late


April 2006 bulletin


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