A STAMMERING therapy team at Airedale Hospital – which helps people across the UK – has been shortlisted for a coveted national award.

The team offers a specialist service via a videolink to patients’ laptops, tablets and even mobile phones.

Now the pioneering project, already a winner of the Guardian Public Service Award, is among the finalists in the acclaimed HSJ Awards.

A pilot scheme, funded with a £75,000 Innovating for Improvement grant from the Health Foundation, proved a massive success.

It provided help to patients who would not have been able to attend traditional clinic-based therapy sessions, due to issues such as a lack of transport or an inability to get time off work.

Some people have used the service from their workplace.

“Airedale Hospital offered a stammering service to local patients already but not all NHS trusts do this and this is where the UK-wide service comes in,” said a spokesman.

“None of those who signed-up for the pilot could have accessed speech therapy without the programme and many reported they had been waiting years for some kind of help.

“For some of the patients, the experience has been truly life-changing.”

Stephanie Burgess, a speech and language therapist and specialist in stammering at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said she was delighted the team had been shortlisted.

She added: “To have been recognised for our innovative use of telemedicine is wonderful.

“However, more importantly, the publicity this will give us will hopefully enable us to get the word out more widely about our stammering therapy service.

“We really want to be able to continue with it and to help many more people who stammer, who would otherwise be unable to get help.”

There are several options for adults interested in accessing the service.

GPs can be asked to submit a so-called individual funding request to the local clinical commissioning group, on the patient’s behalf.

If stammering affects a person’s ability to work, a self-referral may be made to the access-to-work programme – a Government venture to help people with disabilities.

For more details about access-to-work, visit gov.uk/access-to-work.

An employer could be asked to consider funding stammering therapy to support a patient in their work role.

Or people can self-fund a place with the service.

The cost is about £875 for six therapy sessions.

The fees include all preparations, and a full written summary and plan from each session.

For further information, visit airedalestammeringtherapy.wordpress.com or e-mail airedale.stammeringtherapy@nhs.net.