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.

A key element of the new service is CCS’s commitment to work with families and children and young people with special education needs and disabilities to ensure that all children get the support they need to be effective communicators as part of a co-ordinated drive to improve language development across Norfolk.  We look forward to working with them and you on that journey.

Going live in August, initially as a five-year contract, the new service will seamlessly replace the existing service, which runs via two different contracts. 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 need, which equates to 20,000 children in Norfolk and Waveney.

The aims if 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.