Hello my name is Rob

Anyone who experiences a communication barrier, whether it is hearing, sight, because of a physical or learning disability, or cares for someone who does, will know there are many other obstacles to overcome, namely being seen and heard in society.

You don’t need to look far to see evidence of why this shouldn’t be the case and I believe there are always ways to communicate with people. There really is no such thing as ‘hard to reach communities’.

For example the world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who died last week at the age of 76, left behind a massive legacy of work as an astrophysicist, science communicator and activist. Stephen of course was just one of hundreds of thousands of people who live their life struggling to overcome communication barriers and yet go on to achieve great things – no matter how large or small they may seem to others. The secret is that everyone should be given the opportunity.

Communication is essential and because a person can’t speak it doesn’t mean they can’t think. And if ever we need a reminder of why this is so important we have one this week.

Last year I joined as a panel member of Bercow: Ten Years On, to review what has changed ten years later and on Tuesday I CAN and The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, published Bercow: Ten Years On – an uncompromising review of support for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) in England.

Over 2,500 people responded to the consultation during the review to provide an update to the original 2008 Bercow Report. And this week I was privileged to attend the launch of #Bercow10 at the Speaker's House on Tuesday to hear from a number of speakers, including the Rt Hon John Bercow MP on what he believes has changed and importantly what still needs to be done for children and young people with SLCN.

Crucially, the way that services for this group of children and young people are commissioned formed a key area of research for the report. Their needs can be supported in early-years settings, at home and at school by speech and language therapists. Children with severe needs may also need assistive technology for daily communication. This means commissioning can be complex – potentially involving one of more of the following: a specialist health commissioner, local authority commissioner, representative from a clinical commissioning group or indeed an individual school.

Now, nearly 10 years later Bercow: Ten Years On has found that more than half of children with language difficulties are still not being identified. In a nutshell, the report highlights how society is failing thousands of children and young people, by not identifying their needs early enough or providing adequate levels of support – ultimately affecting their future success.

The report also reveals that many parents and carers don’t feel involved in how their child’s support is planned. It also challenges both central and local government to act on the recommendations before another generation of people, whose communication needs aren’t being met, become lost within society.

Whilst it’s important to note that some things have improved during the last 10 years (and the report highlighted good examples up and down the country) many issues and challenges remain the same.

This is clearly an area we want to address here in West Yorkshire and Harrogate. Collaboration and joined up public services is a mantra that we can all sign up to. It drives efficiency and stops duplication and frustration for families. For SLCN, it can help support children to deliver their full potential.

To quote John; “10% of children have a long term persistent communication need that they will not grow out of themselves. This affects their life chances and we must do something about it. We need now to implement the recommendations”.

And so with this firmly in mind we will be taking a closer look at the recommendations at the WY&H priority programme meeting in two weeks’ time.

Have a good weekend


What’s coming up?

  • The business intelligence meeting will take place on Monday. This will be chaired by Phil Corrigan, CEO for Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups.
  • The Public Health Coordination Group, chaired by Dr Ian Cameron from Leeds City Council will also take place on Monday.
  • There is a meeting on Wednesday with West Yorkshire and Harrogate Area Partnership (NHS Employers, NHS England, Health Education England and trade union colleagues). Ian Holmes is attending.
  • The Stroke Programme meets on Wednesday. This is chaired by Dr Andrew Withers.
  • Local elections will take place on 3 May 2018 in a number of our areas. The Department for Communities and Local Government publishes a list of election cycles by type of local authority in England. You can check on your local authority’s website if you are unsure if elections are taking place in your area. The exact start of the pre-election period in your area is determined by when the local authority in question formally declares it. Typically this will be six weeks before the election, with the latest it could begin being 27 March 2018.
  • The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership are developing a small number of sessions to discuss the work taking place to further improve stroke care across our area. The session will include health care professionals, community organisations and importantly people who have experienced stroke and carers.

-Monday 26 March 9.30 am – 12.30 pm St George's Church & Centre, Great George Street, Leeds, LS1 3DL, Tel: 0113 383 2140

-Monday 26 March 9.30 am – 12.30 pm Old Courtroom Town Hall, Wood Street, Wakefield, WF1 2HQ Tel: 01924 305830

-Tuesday 27 March 12.30pm – 3.30pm Brighouse Civic Hall, Bradford Road,Brighouse, HD6 1RW Tel: 01422 392601

-Wednesday 28 March 2pm – 5pm Pannal Village Hall, Station Road and Pannal Bank, Harrogate HG3 1JG

-Thursday 29 March 9.30 am – 12.30pm Al Hikmah Centre, 28 Track Rd, Batley, WF17 7AA Tel: 01924 500502

-Thursday 29 March 12.30pm – 3.30pm Carlisle Business Centre, 60 Carlisle Road, Bradford BD8 8BD Tel: 01274 23203

These sessions are all about updating people on the next phase of work. They will take a similar approach to the event we held on 2 February in Bradford. If people attended this event they don’t need to attend one of these sessions unless they would like to and you would also be very welcome. Please feel free to share with people who may be interested in attending. You can find out more about our stroke care work at www.wyhpartnership.co.uk/our-priorities Please contact jill.dufton@calderdaleccg.nhs.uk for more information.‎