An investigation into the opinions of undergraduate speech and language therapy students on the NHS seven day working week
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: In 2015, the Conservative party came to parliament. In their manifesto, they included their plan to introduce a seven-day NHS. Historically, the NHS has been a Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm service, and there has been much debate regarding the proposal. The arguments have covered issues of cost, mortality rates and service providers. The literature reveals a lack of speech and language therapy (SLT) provision outside of regular working hours, whereas some other allied health profession services are already available across seven days. Aims: To gain insight into the opinions of final year undergraduate SLT students regarding a range of topics within the SLT role in the NHS seven day working week. Method: Twenty-one participants were recruited using convenience and judgement sampling. They participated in an online questionnaire consisting of twelve questions. The study used a triangulation approach of both qualitative and quantitative data. Thematic analysis was applied to identify themes and patterns in the qualitative data. Quantitative data was discussed in percentages and raw figures. Results: All participants were aware of the proposed seven day week. 95% of participants were prepared to work traditional hours, and any 5 days a week at regular times, for example, alternative Saturdays. Approximately half of participants would consider shift work, either Monday- Friday, or any five days of the week. Dysphagia was the most prominent theme regarding clinical area of relevance for a seven-day SLT service, and paediatric services were considered the least beneficial concerning v extended hours. The most prominent theme of the benefit of extended SLT availability was consistency of care. The participants were split in their opinions regarding whether more experienced SLTs would consider working outside of regular working hours and if changes would need to be made to the course if an SLT seven-day week was implemented in any form. Conclusion: The findings support the conclusion that there is a requirement for out of hours speech and language therapy in the opinion of SLT students, who are willing to fulfil this role. The most relevant area for service provision is dysphagia, as hypothesised. This information may be of use to managers in terms of contracts offered to newly qualified therapists, and in order to meet the expectations of the service. The presence of a significant other/dependent did not seem to impact on the choice of contract type that participants would consider, perhaps due to the individual circumstances of the students. However the concept of family interacting with the work of SLTs occurred throughout.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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