Long wait for speech therapy; NHS FIGURES: Children can take months to start their help regime.
SOME children in Coventry are waiting seven months for speech therapy, National Health Service figures show.
Children with speech difficulties who are referred to a clinic usually wait just under nine weeks for an assessment. Then they have to wait between six weeks and six months for therapy.
Peter Hodder, director of primary care at Coventry's Teaching Primary Care Trust, said: "In clinics, assessment is usually within 12 weeks, with a further wait for therapy of between six weeks and six months, depending partly on what input is required - such as group or individual.
"This compares favourably with some nearby services [in the West Midlands]."
Ann-Marie Bailey, aged 44, an educational assis- tant of Abbey Road, Whitley, Coventry, has a 10-year-old daughter, Laura, with special needs.
Laura is a pupil at Whitley Abbey Primary School and was referred to the speech therapy service earlier this year.
Mrs Bailey said: "Laura had to wait six weeks, which wasn't too bad. They did the assessment and then they sent some work for Laura's teacher to do with Laura. The school has been brilliant with her.
"But she has been under the speech and language service on and off for quite a few years - it's not the first time she's been assessed - and I don't know what there is in place to check children's progress when that happens."
The waiting times don't apply to children in special schools where speech therapy is organised through the school; children who are part of one of Coventry's Sure Start schemes; or patients at Walsgrave Hospital's children's ward or neonatal unit.
There are 3,527 children getting speech therapy in Coventry.
D29076_5. ONE OF THE LUCKIER ONES... Ann-Marie Bailey's daughter Laura had her initial assessment within six weeks . Picture: Lisa Carey