Royal Brompton speech and language therapist recognised for work in pandemic

Clinical lead for adult speech and language therapy at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, Lee Bolton, has been recognised by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) for his work in developing risk guidelines for speech and language therapists working with patients during the pandemic.

Lee was awarded a prestigious RCSLT Honours Award for developing and implementing guidelines for speech and language therapists (SLTs) across the UK to limit their exposure to Covid-19 while working with their patients. SLTs were in a vulnerable position during the pandemic, frequently conducting assessments and procedures with their patients which produce airborne water droplets, which could contain Covid-19 viral particles.

From March 2020, Lee raised awareness and compiled evidence alongside colleagues to develop risk assessments which were transformed into guidelines and recommendations. He was a part of the Covid Airborne Protection Alliance which advocated for the profession and influenced work in Government to support SLTs in practicing safely.

With many SLTs continuing to rehabilitate their patients during the pandemic, the new guidelines fed directly into the clinic, and learnings from the clinic translated back into further updating risk procedures.

Something which started as responding to concerns about infection protection and raising awareness on Twitter, progressed into nationally recognised guidance and a top cited paper published in an international journal, all conducted alongside Lee’s clinical commitments.

Speaking about his award, Lee said, “I am so honoured to have received this award which came completely out of the blue!

“I am proud of the work put in by everyone to ensure our colleagues could work safely and confidently with patients across the country. I am grateful this hard work has made a real difference.”

Fiona Cathcart, associate director of rehab and therapies at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals said, “Lee has been transformational in his role and has brought a wealth of experience to the both the SLT profession and our rehab and therapies senior team – he supports, nurtures and develops his team, has grown the profile of our SLT service both internally and externally and is always looking for new and innovative ways to develop our services.

“Lee is a pleasure to work with and we are extremely lucky to have him – congratulations on your hugely well-deserved RCSLT award from everyone in rehab and therapies.”