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Community nurses needed to help language needs.

Unite/CPHVA has welcomed the Bercow Review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCNs), which highlights the importance of community nurses and early intervention in tackling communication problems.

Unite/CPHVA lead officer for nursing Barrie Brown stated: 'Cuts in services that support speech and language therapy provision--particularly the catastrophic cuts in health visitor numbers--also make adequate support for children and their families difficult to achieve.'

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Due to the changing roles of health visitors and school health advisors, children with significant SLCNs were not being identified sooner, the review noted.

The report recommends that health visitors should have regular contact with families, and that a preventative and early-intervention approach is essential. However, Unite/CPHVA is

concerned that increased privatisation in the NHS could hinder these recommendations, as could the annual 3.4% decline in health visiting numbers.

Barrie Brown added: 'The quality of speech and language therapy provision was being eroded by service cuts, the loss of leadership and specialist posts, and cuts to specialist training for speech and language therapists. We now hope to see the sustained investment that will reverse this decline.'

Additionally, the government has announced a 40million [pounds sterling] programme called Lets Talk, which will provide those who work with pre-school children essential training and materials in order to support young children's early language development.

The programme will focus on supporting staff to develop children's listening and speaking skills, as well as helping them spot the early signs of SLCN problems. For a copy of the review, please see: www.dcsf.gov.uk/ bercowreview
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Publication:Community Practitioner
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:266
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