Short-sighted cuts spell trouble ahead for children

December 2012


Children are missing out on vital speech and language therapy and are starting school without the language skills they need.

This is the headline finding of a national survey by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), which reveals that more than two-thirds of therapists working with children are having to ration the services they provide or stop providing them altogether because of budget cuts.

Speech and language therapists used the survey to express their concerns. They highlight increases in waiting times for children from 18 to 42 weeks, the enforced withdrawal of services from special schools, and the unacceptable situation where they can only deliver the minimum service they are legally obliged to, rather than meeting the needs of children with the greatest problems.

One therapist said: “Early years children are waiting far too long for intervention and are starting school with problems that would have been resolved with intensive intervention pre-school.”

Another added: “Cuts mean children are waiting for over a year for therapy. This is leading to more challenging behaviour and more incidences of exclusion from school.”

A third said: “We will no longer be providing speech and language therapy for statemented children in our area. We do not know how the local authority plans to provide this service in 2013.”

Kamini Gadhok, RCSLT chief executive says:

“This is very worrying news. Speech and language therapists are having to retreat into the bunkers and provide only the very basic, legally-required services. In some cases they are being asked to cut professional corners and to stop delivering therapy to children who desperately need professional help.

“Speech and language therapy is proven to be a cost-effective intervention and we know that early identification and intervention is vital to improving a child's life chances. Sadly, the short-term approach to budget decisions that we are witnessing will not only cost more money in the long-term, but will have a significant and avoidable impact on a whole generation of children.”



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