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Gillian Cairns

CAPS-A Trainer

Gillian Cairns.jpg

I am Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist with the Cleft Lip and Palate Service based within Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Children, providing care to individuals born with cleft lip and / or palate, associated craniofacial conditions and non-cleft velopharyngeal dysfunction.


I completed my undergraduate degree at Strathclyde University and began my SLT career working predominantly in the community setting, developing my interest in early speech development during this time. Following a move to Edinburgh from Glasgow I had the opportunity to take up a part-time development post with the cleft lip and palate service and realised that this was the area of specialism that I wanted to pursue.


I completed the PG cert in Cleft Palate Studies at Sheffield University in 2006 and in 2007 increased my sessions at Edinburgh RHSC to take on a lead role. I have worked with the service for well over a decade and despite challenges and changes, I have not looked back.

I enjoy the hugely varied aspects of my job and the opportunities it gives me to work with the wider multidisciplinary team and colleagues nationally and internationally, for example involvement in the TOPS (Timing of Primary Surgery) Trial.


I have been able to attend and present oral papers at both the CSGBI conferences and more recently the International Cleft Congress in Chennai. Currently I am the Chair of the National Speech and Language Therapy Cleft CEN committee, which has provided further opportunities for meeting and working with colleagues from across the country.

When not at work, I value spending time with my family as a mother of two young boys, and enjoy being outdoors, from hill running with my running club to helping at our local Parkrun.

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