Congratulations to the Sunday Times for kicking off the New Year with a lengthy and hard-hitting article about the huge numbers of children in need of speech and language therapy and, of course, the lack of provision within the NHS.
Make no mistake however: finding an independent therapist to meet your needs is becoming increasingly difficult. Whilst membership of ASLTIP (the association for speech and language therapists in independent practice) has risen over the past year, therapists whose details appear on the ASLTIP website are often overwhelmed by the number of enquiries from members of the public, looking for help either for themselves or a loved one.
The article draws our attention to the time children are waiting for an initial appointment – and then, for some, the therapy time available is reduced because of demand.
None of this is new to therapists. Long have we (collectively) campaigned to bring this sorry state of affairs to the notice of decision-makers.
Locally, schools and setting commission our services (and those of a growing number of other independent practitioners): they allocate precious budget to seeking specialist help to meet the needs of huge numbers of children with speech, language and communication needs. If this didn’t happen, the future prospects for a whole generation would be very bleak indeed.
Many Local Authorities are in financial difficulties – some, like ours here in Birmingham – have declared themselves bankrupt. Another round of stringent cuts is just around the corner – it is now more important than ever that ‘two million children’ have a voice so that services for them are, at the very least, protected from a financial situation which is none of their making.