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Reply To: EHCP – LA inform parents they are not seeking report from IP SLT, only NHS SLT

Lorna Bailey

Hi Gillian
Unfortunately this is the process in Norfolk (now, it didn’t used to be).
I have been explicitly told by an EHCP manager at the local authority that if a parent submits an independent SLT report (or independent reports from OT, physio, Ed psych etc) as part of their information when requesting an assessment,  then the local authority is duty bound to ‘consider it’, but they will ‘never use the independent practitioners recommendations because the NHS SLT service is their commissioned provider’ – their words, not mine. If the parents don’t submit the independent report as part of their application, but ask me to send it directly to the local authority, then the LA will not even read my report (again, they have explicitly said this). Similarly, if the parents don’t send it in but put me down as a contact / professional working with the child in their application, the LA will not contact me to ask for a report (which they used to do under the old Statement system, I remember it happening, although when I said this, I was told that they have never requested reports from independent SLTs and that I must be mistaken – I’m not!).
Anyways , it’s a ridiculous system and so not in the child’s best interests. Often the children haven’t been seen by the NHS SLT yet as they are still on their waiting list, so the SLT then goes to school / nursery, sees the child once, and writes a report with recommendations, and this is taken as being what the child needs, despite the fact I might have been working with the child for a prolonged period of time and have a much clearer idea about their needs. Occasionally if the NHS SLT is someone who knows me, they will quietly liaise with me and ask my opinion about the child, but this is not done consistently and relies on the NHS SLT knowing me. 
Some of my families have gone to Tribunal about this and the Tribunal consistently rules that the independent SLT report has to be considered and, in some cases, the independent recommendations incorporated into the EHCP. The Tribunal panel are always clear that the LA should properly consider the independent report and that, if an independent report already exists, it’s not necessary for the LA to then ask the NHS to do another report, and yet the LA keep on operating in the same way and just hope the parents won’t take them to Tribunal, which of course most families don’t. 
Anyway, I’m afraid I have no further advice for you in addition to the advice you’ve already given the family re SENDIASS etc, but I just wanted to share that this seems to happen in several parts of the country. 
I hope your family get a positive resolution,