"Conflict for speech and language therapists asked to give evidence against parents"

About: Wandsworth PCT / Speech and language therapy

(as a relative),

I believe my experience over the past 10 years trying to get care for my son reflects what happens almost as routine for parents of children with SEN, Autism or other conditions with language needs. Despite the NHS SALTS having to determine therapy based on need, they invariably seem to make clinical decisions based on local resources.

Also, I believe that there is an alliance between local education authorities and NHS employees (which is not transparent) that conflicts with NHS guidelines and Communications 3. It is clear in those guidelines that the service user must be no. 1 priority, not the employer. The need of the patient must come first. However, in paediatric SLT we have a situation where NHS SLTS appear at Tribunals against parents and on the side of the LEAs. They are asked to provide reports and in my case the reports always advised 'advice' as opposed to therapy and underplayed need, based on resources. A sharp contrast to private or hospital based language specialists.

It seems that information is shared between local NHS and LEA without the permission of the patient or carer (I believe this is the norm). In my child's case, he has been without much needed therapy for 3 years and I feel that NHS SALTS have actively worked against me obtaining more, even though the LA were legally obliged to provide it. The NHS SALTS are in a very powerful position, particularly in SEN Tribunals. The general belief is that their opinion must be believed more than that of an independent simply because the parents have paid for the private SLT - which is of course a slur on the professionalism of the private SLT. The irony is of course that many NHS SLTS also work in the private sector.

I now have a total lack of trust in this system. The ranks have closed up and my questions remain unanswered. In the end my child and family suffer. The SLTS and LAs can go home at the end of the day, they move on to the next child. We live with our kids 24/7 and have to pick up the pieces if they don't receive support or therapy.

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