According to research, around ten per cent of children currently suffer from a speech or language issue, with the percentage jumping up to over 50% in deprived areas.
Despite speech therapy proving to be a hugely effective method in the treatment of speech and language problems, the Government are proposing a reform that would see GPs able to commission services themselves. Whilst some may see this move as positive, communication champion Jean Gross believes that it will make it even harder for children to get help than before.
Gross fears that the proposed changes would mean many children may face much longer waits to see a therapist for assessment.
“If you are three and have to wait around 18 months to be seen then it is going to be much harder to catch up. If children can have help and catch up by the time they are five and a half then their progress should be normal from then on. But research shows that a child whose problem persists after five and a half will struggle.” She said.
Whilst many see the potential change as a good way for the NHS to cut costs, what many don’t realise is that speech and language therapy actually do benefit the UK economy a great deal.
According to a report commissioned by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, speech and language therapy deliver a net benefit of £742m through bringing people back into work and helping children through school.
Gross went onto say that there is no point identifying children that need help, unless you are in a position to do something about it. “The situation does worry me”, she commented.
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