There are a number of ways to access speech therapy or a speech and language therapist (SLT), depending on whether you are looking for an NHS or a private (independent) SLT.

Back to Speech and language therapy

NHS referral

To access speech and language therapy services through the NHS, ask your GP, district nurse, health visitor, your child’s nursery staff or teacher for a referral.

You can also refer yourself to your local speech and language therapy service. Ring your local NHS service and ask for the telephone number of your local NHS speech and language therapy service.

You do not have to wait for someone else to refer you.

How to contact your local NHS

You can also find the number of your local NHS service online or ask at your GP surgery.

What happens next?

This varies across the UK because services are organised in different ways. In some places, demand for services is very high.

Some areas run a system where first referrals are sorted before appointments are made.

If you have this system in your area, a speech and language therapist or assistant may telephone you first to find out more about your situation. At this stage, you can ask what will happen next and how long you may have to wait for an appointment.

If you think you have been asked to wait too long for a first appointment or for treatment after the first appointment, contact the speech and language therapy department to ask what has happened.

If you still experience difficulty, contact your local NHS service to discuss the situation.

Private (independent) SLTs

Independent speech and language therapists can usually offer an immediate appointment for assessment followed by therapy to suit the client. You can find private SLTs through the Association of Speech therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP).

Visit the ASLTIP website to search for a local SLT by postcode, age range, languages spoken and conditions treated.

Some independent therapists offer specialisation in specific areas of communication difficulties, including:

  • Assessment and diagnosis of complex disorders sometimes in association with other professionals.
  • Tutorials for specific problems, such as dyslexia.
  • Second opinions and reports for statements of special educational need and attendance at tribunal assessments, reports and court attendance for medico-legal claims.


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