Council to work with NHS to improve children’s speech and language

02 November 2020

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Nottinghamshire County Council has agreed to work with the Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group to provide speech and language support for pre-school children, from April 2021.

The County Council will jointly commission speech and language support with Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group. The move was approved at the Council’s Children and Young People's Committee, on Monday 2 November.

Following the transfer of the Children’s Centre Service to the council in June 2020, the County Council had previously agreed that rather than bring the speech and language elements of the service in house, it was better placed to be delivered alongside the specialist Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) team to reduce duplication and ensure that children do not fall through any gaps.

The speech and language programme, previously provided by the Children’s Centre Service, is called ‘Home Talk’ which is a nationally recognised and evidence-based home visiting programme, delivered by trained staff who are managed by a speech and language therapist. It supports children who have moderate to severe expressive language delay.

Since June 2020, the Home Talk programme and Specialist Speech and Language Therapy Services are now managed by the same team within Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. This is already proving successful, as preschool children are allocated to the right part of the service when they need it.

The Council funds the Home Talk programme and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group funds specialist Speech and Language Therapy. Only 50% of health and local authorities jointly commission services. Establishing one single pathway, and joint commissioning, are key recommendations from Public Health England, the Children’s Commissioner and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

The council has agreed to buck this trend and pool these budgets together, to ensure that services are streamlined, joined-up, and better able to meet the needs of those who need support most, targeting preschool children at risk of poor outcomes.

Councillor Philip Owen, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said:

“The early development of good language and communication skills is so important in shaping a child’s life. It opens the door to all other learning and gives a young person confidence in social situations. That’s why we’re committed to early intervention, helping the most vulnerable children and families in Nottinghamshire.

“The agreement with Nottinghamshire CCG is a win-win outcome allowing us to provide an improved service for the children and achieve better value for public money.  The new jointly commissioned service will see us make the best use of our resources, offering a more efficient, targeted, and cost-effective service in line with national expert guidance.

“It means we can have a joined-up approach, with one pathway, a single point of access, and a seamless transition between early intervention and specialist services.

“It will help us achieve the best results possible for our county’s children.”

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