Key Message Three

Tackling communication and swallowing problems reduces avoidable costs and waste in the NHS, local authorities, the criminal justice system and the wider economy.

Communication difficulties lead to poor educational achievement and under-development of the key skills that are essential for a high performing economy.

The UK has lower output than France, Germany and the US which can in part be attributed to a poorer level of skills.

  • “Educational underachievement affects the relative performance of the UK economy. The UK has between 10 and 25% lower output per hour than France, Germany and the US. Much of this can be attributed to a poorer level of skills and  a shortfall of capital investment (The  Prince’s Trust, 2007).”

Failure to ensure appropriate access to speech and language therapy results in a reduction of social mobility and prevents people from lifting themselves out of the poverty cycle. This increases their reliance on high-cost public services such as custodial support, emergency hospital services, social care, and employment-related benefits.

Sustaining speech and language services will help to deliver ‘more for less’ in the NHS by reducing emergency admissions resulting from swallowing difficulties, and supporting earlier discharge and care closer to home for stroke survivors, victims of head injury and those living with dementia.

Speech and language therapists are developing innovative approaches to reduce costs and support improved patient care. For example SLT led voice clinics reduce the time required from consultants.

High cost rehabilitation programmes, such as prison education schemes can waste money unless they are made accessible to offenders, the majority of whom need additional help with communication.

SLTs are the best people advise schools on how children can learn to listen, understand and communicate more clearly. By forming educational environments that are supportive of children who have communication problems, schools can create a context in which all their pupils’ communication development will benefit.