We work alongside the cleft surgeon, cleft nurse specialists, clinical psychologists, orthodontists and a paediatric dentist. We also have close ties with audiology/ENT departments across the region and the genetic service.
There are five highly specialist speech and language therapists within the service, based at the RVI. In addition two highly specialist speech and language therapists work in Cumbria and Teesside.
We provide assessment, diagnosis, treatment and advice to patients, families and other health professionals in the area of speech problems related to cleft palate and velopharyngeal inadequacy (VPI). This includes patients with specific syndromes (e.g. 22q11).
We see patients of all ages who live in the north east of England and Cumbria. We are twinned with the service in Leeds and together make up the Northern and Yorkshire Cleft Lip and Palate Service.
When a baby has been diagnosed with a cleft palate +/- lip the specialist therapists from this service will see the parents and baby in one of our regional multidisciplinary team clinics in Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Middlesbrough or Carlisle to provide some early information and advice on how a cleft palate can affect speech and language development.
We become more involved when the baby turns 12 months of age and will regularly review speech and language development in the early years between 0-3 years. We have close liaison with local community speech and language therapy teams across the region and onward referrals can be made if necessary for both delayed speech and language or for ongoing intervention for articulation difficulties related to cleft palate.
A child may also be referred to us by a local speech and language therapist for a second opinion regarding disorders of resonance and airflow and specific articulation problems without the presence of an overt cleft palate. We aim to see patients as close to home as possible in the first instance, and may also request that they come and meet other members of the cleft lip and palate multidisciplinary team at one of our regional clinics.
We also accept referrals for adults presenting with disorders of resonance due to either having been born with a cleft palate or acquired (e.g. following trauma to the palate).
The Regional Cleft Lip and Palate Service is committed to high quality care and is active in research and audit in this area.
You can contact us on 0191 282 0660