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20 APPGs call for better SLT provision

“Providing adequate funding for SLT services is now crucial to reducing present and future risks”

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Twenty groups of MPs are calling on the Government to increase access to speech and language therapy (SLT), which is “crucial to reducing present and future risks”. 

The chairs, co-chairs and vice-chairs of 20 All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), which represent people with communication and swallowing needs, have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for urgent action to be taken to ensure more people receive the support they so badly need. 

The pressure on resources pre-March 2020 has increased infinitely since then, with research showing the mental health and social impact the lack of access to SLT during lockdown has had on the lives of people across the country, as well as those of their families and carers. 

The Speech and Language Therapy During and Beyond COVID-19 report, from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), revealed that 81 per cent of children saw their SLT provision decrease during the first lockdown, with 62 per cent receiving none at all. 

Among adults, 52 per cent had less SLT, with 44 per cent seeing their support withdrawn completely. 

In the letter from the APPGs, the urgent need for funding to be assigned to SLT was laid bare, alongside the implications of not doing so. 

The intervention of MPs – led by Geraint Davies, chair of the APPG on Speech and Language Difficulties – adds further to the calls being made for SLT to be enabled to Build Back Better, following a letter to the Prime Minister earlier this year signed by 80 organisations, and a petition signed by more than 14,000 people to date. 

“Many of the people our APPGs represent depend on and value SLT. It transforms their lives. It enables them to achieve their potential in school and in the workplace,” the letter says. 

“It supports them to be economically active. It contributes to them living as independently as possible for as long as possible. It helps them to live better lives. 

“Failing to identify and support communication and swallowing needs can affect people’s mental and physical wellbeing. It can affect their educational attainment and put them at risk of exclusion from school. 

“It can affect the forming of positive relationships. It can also affect their employment. 

“It can put some young people at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system. 

“Providing adequate funding for SLT services is now crucial to reducing present and future risks. It can reduce the need for even more public funds to be spent in the future because people’s needs have not been identified and supported earlier.” 

The support from the APPGs has been welcomed by the RCSLT. 

“It’s fantastic to have the support of Geraint Davies and 20 APPGs in calling on the Government to improve access to speech and language therapy,” Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of the RCSLT, tells NR Times. 

“Speech and language therapy changes lives and positively impacts on people’s mental health, education, wellbeing, social life, and employment. 

“It’s vital that the Government responds to these requests to ensure people with communication and swallowing difficulties get the support they need.”

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