HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc124-5W
Mr. Whitlock

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) when he expects to announce the result of the Government's deliberations upon the Quirk Committee's Report on speech therapy services ;

(2) what progress is being made towards the unification of speech therapy services under area health authorities within the reorganised National Health Service ;

(3) what steps are being taken to bring about a rapid expansion of speech therapy services ;

(4) what discussions upon the implementation of the recommendation of the Quirk Committee on speech therapy services have been held between his Department and representatives of the College of Speech Therapists ;

(5) what is the estimated number of speech therapists required within the Nottinghamshire Area Health Authority to cater for the special needs of the area, to cope with demands from schools for services to children with speech defects, and for early diagnosis and treatment of speech and language disorders in preschool stages ; and what is the present strength of speech therapists for those purposes.

Sir K. Joseph

I hope to make an announcement in December.

Officials from the four Departments concerned have been meeting to consider the implications of a unified service and the report's remaining recommendations, which include an expansion of the service, and in due course advice will be issued to area health authorities. The College of Speech Therapists has submitted comments on the report and I have agreed to meet its representatives shortly. My Department intends to invite the college to formal consultations as soon as the announcement is made. In the absence of generally accepted staffing Standards need for speech therapists is difficult to quantify, although I am aware that many authorities would like to employ more.

In Nottinghamshire 174 (whole-time equivalents) speech therapists are employed by the local education authorities and the hospital service ; but it is not possible to say how much of their time is allocated to the services mentioned by the hon. Member.