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Speech Therapy

Volume 400: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he plans to ensure that primary care trusts provide speech therapy to meet children's statemented needs. [97180]

"Shifting the Balance of Power" gives primary care trusts (PCTs) the responsibility of improving the health of the community, securing the provision of high quality services and integrating health and social care locally.We are assisting this by increasing the numbers of speech and language therapists (SLTs). Between September 1997 and 2001, the number of SLTs employed in the national health service increased by 17 per cent., from 4,870 to 5,680. The numbers of SLTs entering training have increased by 21 per cent., from 457 to 553 between 1999–2000 and 2001–02. Also, with the extra investment announced in the 2002 Budget, by 2008 the NHS will have net increases of at least 30,000 scientists and therapists, including speech and language therapists. over the September 2001 staff census.A children care group work force team was established in December 2001 to take a national view on the health and social care work force pressures and priorities for children and maternity services. It supports the strategy set out in "The HR in the NHS Plan", published in July 2002, which aims to grow and develop the NHS work force.One of the main priorities for the care group is to support the development of the children's national service framework. This includes action to develop a framework of the skills and competencies needed in the work force to deliver quality person-centred care for children, young people and expectant mothers. This will help to ensure that national educational needs are identified and action taken through the care group, and that at a local level, primary care trusts have the information needed to make adequate provision for children's services. This would include the provision of speech therapy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will instigate an inquiry into the staffing and funding of speech therapy in (a) special schools and (b) mainstream schools. [97182]