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New plan to transform speech and language therapy for Norfolk children

An ambitious new £3.4 million per year plan to transform speech and language therapy services for children and young people in Norfolk got the go ahead this week after a new countywide contract was agreed.

Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which jointly fund and run speech and language therapy, have commissioned Cambridgeshire Community Services (CCS) NHS Trust to provide one single consistent and integrated service across the whole county.

Going live in August, initially as a five-year contract, this will seamlessly replace the existing service, which runs via two different contracts.

John Fisher, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We are confident it will further develop speech and language therapy in Norfolk, which is so crucial to the life chances of our children and young people.

“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.

“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.”

Rebecca Hulme, Associate Director for Children and Young People at NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is a significant further step forward in the transformation of Speech and Language Therapy services available for children and young people living in Norfolk and Waveney. Building on a strong and highly experienced Speech and Language Therapy workforce, we are confident that CCS can build on the work together with schools, settings, parents and carers, to make a difference for those who need additional support.

“We wish to acknowledge the hard work and scale of change achieved over the last two years with East Coast Community Healthcare who will work with CCS to ensure a smooth transition over the summer.”

Sian Larrington, Head of Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust said: “We are absolutely delighted to be awarded the service. We have worked very closely with our colleagues in Speech and Language Therapy for many years and are thrilled to welcome them to the trust. It’s also very exciting to be working with new partners and families in Suffolk to provide an excellent, coproduced service across Norfolk and Waveney. 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.”

Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT) services are for children and young people from birth to 18 with speech, language and communication disorders, delays or dysphagia and up to age 25 for those with an identified need stipulated in their Education Health and Care Plan.

Speech, language and communication are essential life skills and crucial to enabling children and young people to interact socially and emotionally as well as academically. Speech and language difficulties can have a significant impact on a child’s life chances.

It is estimated that around ten per cent of all children have long-term speech, language and communication needs, which equates to 20,000 children in Norfolk and Waveney.

The aims of the new provision will be:

  • To continue to provide expertise and training to enable the identification, assessment, investigation and support of children and young people
  • To develop and implement integrated care pathways to facilitate early identification and assessment, including specialist assessment and intervention
  • To work with system partners to provide centralised training and workforce development with opportunities to build the skills and capacity of parents and professionals
  • To provide safe, high quality, child-centred, timely and flexible services
  • To deliver a five day a week service based in the community to ensure children and young people are supported close to home, operating from a range of suitable, accessible community locations

As far as possible children, families and schools will be protected from any service disruption as SaLT services and staff move from the former contractual arrangements to one new single service.

Schools, parents and children in receipt of SaLT services will be kept informed of how they will move from one service to another.

CCS currently provides an extensive portfolio of services for children, young people and families across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Luton, Norfolk and Suffolk. This includes speech and language therapy services and Norfolk’s Healthy Child Programme which includes health visiting and school nursing. CCS also provides a range health and dental services for adults.

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