New service will ‘revamp speech and language therapy services for children’
- Credit: PA
A £3.4 million per year plan to transform speech and language therapy services for children and young people in Norfolk and Waveney will launch in August.
The new service will aim to seamlessly replace existing services, which runs via two different contracts, after a new initial countywide five-year contract was agreed.
Norfolk parents have previously slammed health and council officials for long delays in getting speech therapy assessments for their children, with many saying they have forked out hundreds of pounds to pay for a private therapist instead.
Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which jointly fund and run speech and language therapy, have now commissioned Cambridgeshire Community Services (CCS) NHS Trust to provide a single consistent and integrated service across the whole county.
It is estimated that around 10pc of all children have long-term speech, language and communication needs, which equates to 20,000 children in Norfolk and Waveney.
The new service aims to develop integrated care pathways for the early identification and assessment, with child-centred, timely and flexible services.
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The five day a week service will be based in accessible community locations to ensure children and young people are supported close to home.
John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The joint commissioning team were really impressed with the proposals for the new single service and with the way CCS proposes to engage with parents, carers, and the wider system.
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“We’re confident it is an ambitious and exciting approach which meets our expectations and aspirations and it complements the wider transformation of our services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.”
Mike Smith-Clare, Labour group lead for children and young people, said: “Any opportunity for helping Norfolk’s young people must be welcomed.
“Let’s hope that the positive impact from speech and language therapy ensures that their voices are actually listened to and understood.”
CCS already provides children and family services across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Luton, Norfolk and Suffolk, including existing speech and language therapy services and Norfolk’s healthy child programme which includes health visiting and school nursing.
Sian Larrington, head of Norfolk children and young people’s health services, said: “We expect a smooth transition for families and staff, as we look to build on the excellent work the speech and language therapy team already delivers.”