Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham, Selly Oak) has expressed outrage as children in Birmingham face a wait of up to 2.3 years to receive the speech and language therapy they need.
(Credit: Therapy Directory)
Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have confirmed that children referred to their Speech and Language Therapy Service are currently facing waiting times of up to 54 weeks from their referral to receive initial assessment appointments. Children who meet the threshold for the service following assessment then have a further wait of up to 66 weeks for their speech and language therapy to start.
After receiving a number of enquiries from constituents concerned about their children’s waiting times for speech and language therapy Steve McCabe has tabled several Parliamentary Questions to put pressure on the Government to take action to reduce waiting times.
The Trust have stated that the long waiting times are due to an extremely high and rising referral rate and that they are working with Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group to reduce timescales. However, research published in June 2019 by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England uncovered a ‘postcode lottery’ of care. (1) The report found that in 2018/19 the top 25% of areas spent over £16.35 per child on speech and language therapy, compared to less than 58p per child in the bottom 25% of areas. Average local authority spending on speech and language therapy in the West Midlands was the second lowest of any region in the country, at 90p per child, compared to £7.29 per child in London. (2)
Commenting on the figures Steve McCabe said,
“Speech and language therapy is vital to the development of many children. Considering the potential impact of poor communication skills on a child in their crucial early years and when starting school, waiting times of over two years are shocking and simply not good enough; for many, the support will simply come too late.
A number of my constituents have been in touch about their experiences waiting for access to these essential services. I am calling on Ministers to urgently address these lengthy waiting times.”
(2) ‘We need to talk’- Access to speech and language therapy, Children’s Commissioner (June 2019): https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/we-need-to-talk/