Spending review: government urged to increase funding for speech-language pathology

A multi-stakeholder group of MPs and peers is calling on the government to increase funding for speech-language pathology after research shows access to services has been hit even harder by the pandemic.

An open letter to the prime minister and chancellor of 20 multi-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) said increased investment in speech therapy would improve the lives of millions of babies, children, youth and their families.

Urging the government to use this week’s budget, which is due to be announced on October 27, to provide more funds for services, the group said the increased spending would reduce the risk of more public money being spent at at a later date, because people’s needs had not been identified. and sustained early enough.

The letter comes after a coalition of more than 80 organizations wrote to Boris Johnson in March calling for better access to speech therapy.

Thousands of signatures were also received on a parliamentary petition requiring better support for those with communication and swallowing needs.

The letter sets out the findings of a recent investigation conducted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists on the impact of Covid on people’s access to therapeutic services.

It found that 81% of children and youth had less speech therapy during the first lockout, while 62% had no therapy at all.

About half of adults had less therapy than before the first lockdown and 44% had no access to any support during that time.

He also revealed that people living in the most disadvantaged areas of England have access to fewer therapies than those living in the most advantaged areas.

Groups of young people who did not have or had limited access to speech therapy included children with delayed speech or language development and those with a long-term need for speech, language and communication.

The others affected were those with language development disorders such as stuttering, deafness or a genetic disease.

Children with special educational needs or disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or muscular dystrophy have also been affected.

Respondents to the survey said having less speech therapy made their lives worse, affecting their education, social life and friendships.

They also said it made life worse for their families and caregivers.

The multi-stakeholder group said it was crucial that pre-pandemic issues of access to therapy be resolved with services already under “severe pressure” before March 2020.

This meant that a significant backlog of identification and intervention had developed, which included the need to provide speech therapy for people with long-term Covid, a whole new clinical area.

Additional support was also needed to support children whose language development had been affected by the lockdown, he added.

Geraint Davies, MP for Swansea West and chair of the APPG on Speech and Language Disorders, said therapy could transform lives, but the pandemic had exacerbated the ability of many to access support.

“I am grateful to so many fellow parliamentarians for joining the call to increase funding for speech-language pathology.

“It will improve the lives of those we represent and reduce the risk of their lives getting worse – and the risk of having to spend even more public money because we did not support people at an earlier stage,” he said. he declared.

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