MSP says people are “…facing agonising waits” for speech and language therapy

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 14:22 BST on Friday 20th July 2012.

Central Scotland MSP Margaret Mitchell has said that many children throughout Lanarkshire – and Scotland – are “…facing agonising waits” for speech and language therapy sessions.  

A new report has revealed that hundreds of children across Scotland are waiting months for an appointment with a speech and language therapist in Scotland, with figures showing that the average wait for youngsters is 27 weeks, with the longest wait taking up to 81 weeks. This compares to the average adult wait of 16 weeks.

Although the waiting time in Lanarkshire was below the national average, according to the report, the average wait for adults was 3 weeks but in comparison the average waiting time for children was 8 weeks with the maximum wait 18 weeks. 

Across almost every area of Allied Health Professionals (AHP) treatment adults enjoy a shorter journey time from referral to appointment. For instance, in Lanarkshire the average wait for an adult orthoptics appointment was just 1 week as opposed to an average of 10 weeks for a child with the maximum wait 17 weeks.

In addition, the report criticised the Scottish Government’s recording of information on this topic, with the report concluding: “There is a lack of accurate and consistent information on waiting times for AHPs.”

Commenting on the figures, Scottish Conservative MSP for Central Scotland Margaret Mitchell said: “The Scottish Government has promised that frontline services will not be affected as it seeks to make efficiency savings.

“However, these statistics reveal that children across Lanarkshire and throughout Scotland are facing agonising waits for extremely important speech and language therapy and orthoptics appointments.

“For a child experiencing difficulties like these, every single day is crucial and can seem much longer than for an adult. It is unsustainable to have so many children sitting for months waiting to be seen especially when the record for adults is so much better.

“The SNP has continually highlighted the importance of waiting times targets across all areas of healthcare.

The MSP added: “These results came from a one-off census carried out. It is now up to the Scottish Government to monitor these waits more closely to ensure the discrepancy is sorted and waiting times improved.”