asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why St. Helens-Knowsley area health authority has only one speech therapist; how this compares with the average for each area and with the area with the greatest number; and if he will explain the differences in provision.
There are at present six speech therapists in post in St. Helens and Knowsley area health authority.Before September 1976 there had been only one therapist in post, but since then the area health authority has employed a further five.The table published with my reply to the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Hodgson) on 20th July—[Vol. 954,
392–5]—contains the latest information available for the rest of England on speech therapists in post.
Differences in provision between one area and another arise from a variety of historical causes. My Department regards improvement of the speech therapy services as a priority. In 1974 there were 983—whole-time equivalent—speech therapists in England, in 1976 the number had risen to 1,167—whole-time equivalent. Provisional figures for 1977 indicate another steady rise.
Determination of the level of speech therapy provision in any individual area is of course the responsibility of the area health authority.