Sarah's Thoughts The Voice Sarah's Thoughts

There have been many concerning reports from parents and adult clients across the independent sector recently regarding unclear guidelines when accessing NHS and Independent SLT.

Do the following scenarios sound familiar to you:

“The families of some of the children that I work with are being required to choose between NHS and independent SLT sessions. One child’s family had a message through school to say that if I continued to see the child in school, the NHS would withdraw their service. This is despite the child having SLT on his statement.”

“I have not had this said to me overtly – but have had the heads in two schools within one district very reluctant to let me come into school to work with them ‘as we dont want to upset the NHS SLT service’ as they have said they will withdraw their service if an independent service is going in.”

In another area it was reported by a family that ‘The NHS policy is that if you are having ongoing private therapy the NHS see that the child’s needs are being met and discharge them.’

One provider expressed:

This is certainly something we have experienced from a number of angles:

  1. Families reporting to us that they have been told that if they purchase independent SLT, they will be discharged from the NHS services.
  2. Children being discharged from NHS caseloads, often coinciding with the parents purchasing independent input.
  3. Schools asking us not to come in on days when the NHS SLT is there, just in case they withdraw their service.
  4. Schools refusing independent SLTs and other independent professionals permission to see children on the school site (when parents are funding and have requested this), and also telling parents that if they take a child out of school for an independent therapy session, this will be recorded as an unauthorised absence. 

Reasons given include:

“It’s not fair on the other children whose parents can’t afford independent input,” “It is too draining on staff time,” “The children cannot miss lessons,” “There is no room to accommodate you,” and “It’s our new policy.”

It strikes me that this could be one very good Giving Voice campaign!

We must protect the provision of SLT to all our clients,who without it, are left without voices, without choice and without control.

It is our job as a united Speech and Language therapy workforce to shout loud about the essential role which SLT contributes to our clients.  The cost savings it has within our communities; reducing youth offending rates, increasing employability and reducing the costs to other services such as GPs and other allied health and educational services.


Communication is and must remain a basic human right!


Sarah Davis

Director of Integrated Treatment Services

Consultant Speech and Language Therapist



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