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Scoping opinion: Speech and language therapists' views on extending their role to the urgent ear, nose and throat pathway.

Occomore-Kent, L. C. ORCID: 0000-0002-6212-5461, Hatch, E. & Cruice, M. ORCID: 0000-0001-7344-2262 (2021). Scoping opinion: Speech and language therapists' views on extending their role to the urgent ear, nose and throat pathway.. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 56(5), pp. 975-988. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12650


BACKGROUND: In the UK, there is increasing pressure on ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinicians and departments, which is anticipated to amplify in the coming months and years due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and other workforce pressures. In the context of a national drive to advance practice of Allied Health Professionals to address some key challenges facing the National Health Service, we explored whether UK speech and language therapists (SLTs) felt it is possible to utilize and extend their existing skills to patients on the urgent 2-week wait (2ww) ENT pathway.

AIMS: To explore SLTs' views of extending their role to work with patients referred on the ENT 2ww pathway.

METHODS & PROCEDURES: Two separate focus groups were conducted using nominal group technique to generate and rank benefits and challenges of the proposed extension of role. Participants were invited to take part through Clinical Excellence Networks relevant to head and neck cancer and voice sub-specialties. Participants were competent in performing nasendscopy in at least a highly specialist role in voice or head and neck subspecialties.

OUTCOMES & RESULTS: Nine SLTs from England, Wales and Northern Ireland attended two focus groups. All were employed in band 8 roles in head and neck and/or voice. Eight were competent to Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists' scoping level 3. Important benefits of the proposed novel service delivery model were generated and ranked by participants, with both groups identifying improved quality and efficiency of service for patients among the most important. Disadvantages were then generated and ranked across the two groups with potential for misdiagnosis ranked as the most important by both.

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Participants responded that extending the SLT role into assessment of 2ww patients would provide benefits for quality of care, healthcare efficiency and the SLT workforce. The identified disadvantages require addressing if the proposed SLT-led model of service delivery is piloted in the UK. These include practical matters such as referral and prescribing rights, alongside wider implications such as support, governance, indemnity, acknowledgement and remuneration for the extended role. Nationally agreed competencies and training for the role are required if this model is to be successful.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: therapeutics, dysphonia, otorhinolaryngological diseases, healthcare quality, access and evaluation
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RF Otorhinolaryngology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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