HC Deb 12 July 1973 vol 859 cc1774-6
Q3. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Prime. Minister if he will make one Minister responsible for all speech therapy training and provision..

The Prime Minister

Speech therapy services will become the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services in England and of the respective Secretaries of State in Scotland and Wales as part of the reorganisation of the health service. No decisions have yet been reached on the recommendations in the Quirk Report about speech therapy training.

Mr. Pavitt

Is the Prime Minister seized of the importance to a specially deprived group of the crisis that exists in this service? Is he further aware that, although after 1st April next the responsibility will rest with the health services rather than the education services, the crisis is such that there will be little left of speech therapy, first, unless action is taken immediately to implement the Quirk Report recommendations and, secondly, unless it is taken by the end of September to deal with the anomalies between the pay scales of those employed in the education sector and the health sector, respectively?

The Prime Minister

I recognise the importance of this matter, which the hon. Gentleman has previously raised in the House. My right hon. Friend has made an announcement about the organisation. The other decisions are now being considered. Included in such matters is that of provision of therapists. The Department has been consulting all the organisations concerned which naturally takes a little time. I recognise the urgency of the matter. It has not been suggested, so far as I am aware, that the anomalies might be put to the Pay Board. I shall look into this.

Mr. Costain

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the excellent work that this profession is doing, particularly of rehabilitation after a road accident involving brain damage? Will he make sure that nothing is done to hamper that good work?

The Prime Minister

I can certainly give my hon. Friend that undertaking. The real problem is how to get a greater supply of those who can help in these circumstances.

Mr. Driberg

Does the phrase "speech therapy training" include training for autistic children and adolescents, for whom, at present, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the provision is totally inadequate?

The Prime Minister

This is part of the same problem. Obviously these children are included among those for whom provision has to be made.

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