MPs with constituencies that undersupply AAC

So we are all familiar with Stephen Hawking and the machine that allows him to speak.  What you may not know is that there almost 21,000 people in the UK alone who need such a machine – commonly known as Augmentative and Alternative Communication  (AAC) devices.  And the main reason they don’t have one is cost.  Much of the time they are dependent on the heath services to even speak.

In 2012 I made freedom of information requests to every Primary Care Trust  (as they then were) to find out what the AAC landscape looked like.  All the information went into the Domesday Dataset. Dates and details, makes and manufactures, prices and provenance.

The Domesday Dataset, which lists every AAC device that the NHS purchased between 2006 and 2012, remains the richest source in the world of real data about Augmentative Communication at all levels.

When I released the dataset there were some things that particularly shocked me.

It was quite an emotional project… responses ranged from heart-warming (South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust lists the funders of a laptop used for speech therapy as “Provided by IT Department”) to chilling (Norfolk PCT stated “many patients have chosen to be

reliant on care staff to interpret their needs via the use of closed questions” (

But the shocking thing was finding out that although, there were many areas with good provision (Bristol springs to mind) the NHS Trusts of County Durham, Hull, Surrey, Trafford, Hertfordshire, Kingston, Mid Essex, Newham, Nottingham City, South Tyneside, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Wirral, City and Hackney, Richmond and Twickenham, purchased no aids at all in the years requested.

None at all.  I have close friends grew up in those areas and needed AAC.

So who might be willing to take responsibility for this? Well we should certainly find out.

With the aid of Twitter we worked out the set of Westminister constituencies that are covered by each of those Primary Care Trusts (PCT), Thank you everyone who helped with that.

The line I’ve been getting from a lot of people is that the CCGs that replaced the PCTs are a complete reorganisation of the system – but my thing is that it is the same SLPs and the same managers and the same people making the decisions and I think it’s worth checking…

So let’s look at the MPs constituencies that are in those PCTs.  If your MP appears in this list then feel free to contact them using the link provided 🙂

PCT Constiuency MP Side
  County Durham Bishop Auckland Helen Goodman Lab
  County Durham City of Durham Roberta Blackman-Woods Lab
  County Durham Easington Grahame Morris Lab
  County Durham North Durham Kevan Jones Lab
  County Durham North West Durham Pat Glass Lab
  County Durham Sedgefield Phil Wilson Lab
  Hull Teaching Kingston upon Hull East Karl Turner Lab
  Hull Teaching Kingston upon Hull North Diana Johnson Lab
  Hull Teaching Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle Alan Johnson Lab
  Surrey East Surrey Sam Gyimah Con
  Surrey Epsom and Ewell Chris Grayling Lab
  Surrey Esher and Walton Dominic Raab Con
  Surrey Guildford Anne Milton Con
  Surrey Mole Valley Paul Beresford Con
  Surrey Reigate Crispin Blunt Con
  Surrey Runnymede and Weybridge Philip Hammond Con
  Surrey South West Surrey Jeremy Hunt Con
  Surrey Spelthorne Kwasi Kwarteng Con
  Surrey Surrey Heath Michael Gove Con
  Surrey Woking Jonathan Lord Con
  Trafford Altrincham and Sale West Graham Brady Con
  Trafford Stretford and Urmston Kate Green Lab
  Trafford Wythenshawe and Sale East Mike Kane Lab
  Hertfordshire Broxbourne Charles Walker Con
  Hertfordshire Hemel Hempstead Michael Penning Con
  Hertfordshire Hertford and Stortford Mark Prisk Con
  Hertfordshire Hertsmere James Clappison Con
  Hertfordshire Hitchin and Harpenden Peter Lilley Con
  Hertfordshire North East Hertfordshire Oliver Heald Con
  Hertfordshire South West Hertfordshire David Gauke Con
  Hertfordshire St Albans Anne Main Con
  Hertfordshire Stevenage Stephen McPartland Con
  Hertfordshire Watford Richard Harrington Con
  Hertfordshire Welwyn Hatfield Grant Shapps Con
  Kingston Kingston and Surbiton Edward Davey Lib
  Kingston Richmond Park Zac Goldsmith Con
  Richmond and Twickenham Richmond Park Zac Goldsmith Con
  Richmond and Twickenham Twickenham Vincent Cable Lib
  Mid Essex Braintree Brooks Newmark Con
  Mid Essex Chelmsford Simon Burns Con
  Mid Essex Maldon John Whittingdale Con
  Mid Essex Saffron Walden Alan Haselhurst Con
  Mid Essex Witham Priti Patel Con
  Newham East Ham Stephen Timms Lab
  Newham West Ham Lyn Brown Lab
  Nottingham City Nottingham East Christopher Leslie Lab
  Nottingham City Nottingham North Graham Allen Lab
  Nottingham City Nottingham South Lilian Greenwood Lab
  South Tyneside Jarrow Stephen Hepburn Lab
  South Tyneside South Shields Emma Lewell-Buck Lab
  Tower Hamlets Bethnal Green and Bow Rushanara Ali Lab
  Tower Hamlets Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick Lab
  Wandsworth Battersea Jane Ellison Con
  Wandsworth Putney Justine Greening Con
  Wandsworth Tooting Sadiq Khan Lab
  Wirral Birkenhead Frank Field Lab
  Wirral Wallasey Angela Eagle Lab
  Wirral Wirral South Alison McGovern Lab
  Wirral Wirral West Esther McVey Con
  City and Hackney Teaching Cities of London and Westminster Mark Field Con
  City and Hackney Teaching Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbott Lab
  City and Hackney Teaching Hackney South and Shoreditch Meg Hillier Lab

That’s 63 constituencies, almost 10%  of the total seats in the parliament.    In those 63 constituencies the NHS provided not one single item of equipment for AAC.

As I said above… I’ve been hearing people say that the CCGs that replaced the PCTs are a complete reorganisation of the system – but my thing is that it’s the same SLPs and the same managers and the same people making the decisions and I think it’s worth checking.



One thought on “MPs with constituencies that undersupply AAC

  1. AAC devices in the USA are incredibly expensive (typically $8,000 US). But there are some options using the iPad like Prologo and GusInc (TalkTablet and others) which are a fraction of the cost.
    Does the healthcare system offers those less expensive devices as well?
    (That might be a way to make money go farther. Also, now that you’ve got the universal open source symbol set (great idea!) they could start with a cheaper device, show that they are getting good use out of it and perhaps trade up.)

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