New Contract With Speech Pathologists to Shorten Waitlists for Children

speech therapy pathology

Icelandic Health Insurance has extended its service contract with self-employed speech pathologists by six months and eliminated the prerequisite of two years of work experience, a change for which speech pathologists have been campaigning. The coming six-month period will be utilised to streamline and improve speech therapy services, including by implementing quality indicators, prioritisation, and more to ensure clients receive the best possible service.

Speech pathology is a healthcare service mostly used by children in Iceland, and waitlists for services have been lengthy in recent years. RÚV reported this month that around 900 children were on a waiting list to receive speech therapy. Until now, the cost of therapy was only covered by public health insurance if a speech pathologist had two years of work experience. This left many newly-graduated speech pathologists without work, while children who could not afford to pay for private services were placed on long waitlists.

“This is an important step,” stated Health Minister Willum Þór Þórsson. “I have high hopes that a new contract will be successfully made six months from now that will bring this important service up to a good level for those who need it, and those are children for the most part.”

María Heimisdóttir, CEO of Icelandic Health Insurance, celebrated the contract extension and the fact that funds had been secured so that the two-year experience requirement could be repealed.

Therapy for All

Kara Connect - Þorbjörg Helga Vigfúsdóttir

It’s a dark winter morning in Bíldudalur, a small, isolated town in the remote Westfjords, and 10-year-old Anna is preparing for a video meeting with a speech therapist to work on her lisp. While her classmates head to a grammar lesson, Anna works one-on-one with a specialist situated in downtown Reykjavík. That same afternoon, 51-year-old Kjartan sits down for his regularly scheduled appointment with a therapist, who is located in Akureyri, North Iceland. The only therapist in town is a close family friend. Battling with depression, Kjartan has up until now been unable to meet with a specialist. It’s impossible to hire specialists to come to every small town in Iceland – and that’s where Kara Connect comes in. All over Iceland, the start-up is making healthcare accessible to individuals who could not access it before.

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