Parkinson’s sufferer calls on MPs to speak up for speech therapy
A Parkinson’s sufferer who turned to crowdfunding to back speech therapy lessons is calling for MPs to write to their local NHS bodies to clarify what speech and language therapy is offered as part of Parkinson’s care in their constituencies.
EDRS member, Elan Shoffman, 65, who battled Parkinson’s to deliver a father of the bride speech at his daughter’s wedding in August, claims there can be a postcode lottery when it comes to care as Clinical Commissioning Groups across the country fund different types of therapy and provide varying numbers of speech therapists.
Freedom of information requests show that speech and language therapists funded by NHS trusts can range from 4 to more than 20, leaving many to fund their own support.
Separately, a recent survey by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists found 52 per cent reported cuts in their budget or income in 2014, 86 per cent of which came from the NHS.
Shoffman, who raised more than £3,000 from 90 backers to pay for his speech therapy, says the lack of consistent NHS support leaves many Parkinson’s patients suffering in silence.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006 and developed a speech impediment as a result.
His children ran a crowdfunding campaign last year to help pay for his speech therapy due to a lack of regular support on the NHS.
The money raised has also gone towards making and screening an awareness raising documentary on 23 February that will follow his journey to making the father of the bride speech at his daughter’s wedding.
He now wants others to have the opportunity to have their voice heard and is calling for more clarity and consistency over NHS support for speech therapy.
Shoffman says: “Parkinson’s is often associated with issues around tremors and movement, but the biggest impact on me has been my voice as the muscles around my mouth have deteriorated. This make it hard to do relatively simple things like call my friends on the phone and I fear going out sometimes in case I can’t keep up with conversations as I struggle to get the words out.
“NHS support for speech therapy has been reduced and it is now a postcode lottery when it comes to getting support, leaving many with costly private sessions or just suffering in silence.
“I was lucky to have the support of so many people to back my speech therapy so I had the confidence to speak at my daughter’s wedding.
“MPs should speak up to ensure their constituents can access decent speech therapy services if needed.”
You can view more about the crowdfunding campaign here
The Speech (Thinking loud)
Help our dad and others battle Parkinson's and speech impediments by backing an awareness-raising documentary and raising funds for charity