22 March 2024

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a new report on the NHS Workforce Plan. 

The National Audit Office’s (NAO) report is an independent assessment of the modelling used to underpin the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan which was published in July 2023. The NAO report recognises significant policy weaknesses in the modelling used in the NHS Workforce Plan and highlights the need for further engagement with stakeholders like the RCSLT. 

RCSLT are keen to work with NHS England and would like to see: 

  • Future modelling to include demand scenarios for children and young people’s speech and language therapy services and community-based services. This must include NHS services that are delivered in schools and in the justice system. 
  • Modelling reflecting the full spectrum of speech and language therapy services in different settings – not just hospitals. 
  • How training places can be increased. 
  • Assessment of the ways in which the Government can increase the supply of speech and language therapy training places, when the Government does not fund those places – the report correctly identifies the independence of HEIs in providing places, capacity constraints for those HEIs, and for services to provide placements for increased students. 
  • How the Government will incentivise the extra capacity required, when speech and language therapy pre-registration courses already cost more to deliver than the funding of them via student loans. 

Our Chief Executive, Steve Jamieson, commented: “If the NHS Workforce Plan is to deliver on its ambitions, NHS England drastically needs to improve the way it engages with stakeholders like the RCSLT, working with us to resolve fundamental issues we’ve identified in the plan. 

“Vacancy rates in speech and language therapy services across England currently stand at 25%. With 73,000 children and young people in the community currently waiting for an NHS speech and language therapy appointment and, 5,000 of those waiting over a year, services are stretched to the limit.” 

You can read our initial response to the NHS Workforce Plan.