What we do
We assess and manage moderate to severe feeding difficulties in babies, children and young people and offer a range of outpatient and inpatient services.
Outpatient feeding clinics
We hold clinics two to three times a week for babies, infants and children with moderate to severe feeding difficulties. Referrals must be within the Brighton and Hove catchment area including postcodes BN1, BN2 (excluding BN2 8DB), BN3 and BN41. Due to high demand on the service, limitations are placed on the type of referral accepted. Being a fussy eater or having trouble chewing lumps does not constitute a moderate or severe feeding problem. To qualify for referral, a child will have some or all of the following:
- a risk of aspiration (food or drink going down the wrong way)
- significant problems regarding weight gain
- continual ill health
- a history of choking on food/fluids
- a diagnosis predisposing them to feeding difficulties
Joint speech and language/dietetic clinic
This clinic is held once a month for babies, infants and children within the Brighton and Hove catchment area. Most referrals tend to be discharged inpatients, and children dependent on tube feeding for the majority of their nutrition. By combining the dietetic and speech therapy service, we are able to maximise the child’s potential for growth and oral feeding while reducing the number of appointments the child needs to attend.
Videofluoroscopy (Swallow X-ray)
This is held once a month and open to referrals within the south east. All referrals are seen in the pre-videofluoroscopy clinic to assess suitability and format for the assessment. Follow-up after the x-ray is only offered to those children within the Brighton and Hove catchment area.
This is held weekly, usually on the wards but also in the outpatients department and is led by the Gastroenterology team.
Multidisciplinary clinic held approximately every six weeks for babies discharged from the Trevor Mann Baby Unit with a home oxygen requirement. These infants are often born extremely prematurely, and tend to have ongoing feeding difficulties. The clinic carries out assessment and management of feeding difficulties.
Group play therapy sessions
In partnership with the play team, we offer group therapy sessions for children who are weaning from tube to oral feeding or for children with severe oral aversion and restrictive diets. This is currently a pilot group for a small number of selected children.
These clinics are offered to other speech and language therapists who have children on their caseload with feeding difficulties which are not severe enough to meet the children’s hospital criteria. One-off joint appointments are offered, with recommendations made for the local therapist.
Our phone advice is ffered to GPs, health visitors, play workers etc who require advice for mild feeding difficulties such as fussy eaters, refusal of lumpy foods, but do not meet the Alex criteria.
The Trevor Mann Baby Unit
We assess and manage feeding difficulties caused by a wide range of factors, including prematurity, birth trauma, brain damage, and generalised feeding difficulties.
We are also involved with infants who cannot be fed orally while waiting for, or recovering from, complex surgery (eg gastroschisis). Babies are only followed up on discharge from the unit if they are transferred to the Alex or are seen as outpatients. No cover is available for the Princess Royal Hospital.
The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital:
We assess and manage feeding difficulties from a wide range of etiologies, and often help with diagnosis of patients. A weekly nutrition round is attended as part of the inpatient service.
We are heavily involved in the neurodevelopmental team, which provides many recommendations to staff and parents around infant feeding and early neonatal development. The department is also a source of advice and support for therapists from neighbouring trusts.
Level 5, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital
Telephone: 01273 696955 extn 2527