Referral Criteria – Dysphagia (Feeding and Swallowing)

Speech and Language Therapists will see babies, infants and children who have eating, drinking and/or swallowing problems . This might be as a result of being premature, or because of physical or mechanical feeding difficulties.

Conditions in scope

We will see babies and children who:

  • Are at risk of aspirating e.g. food or drink going down the wrong way into their lungs
  • Who have a history of repeated chest infections/pneumonia which is caused by swallowing difficulties
  • Are preterm or a baby with a neurological problem/medical condition associated with feeding difficulties e.g. Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy
  • Are being weaned off a feeding tube
  • Have a tracheostomy tube
  • Have problems with food and drink when it is in their mouth or throat

Exclusion criteria

SLTs do not provide a service to children or young people who:

  • Present with feeding difficulties as a result of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Have just sensory and/or behavioural issues affecting their eating and drinking
  • Are ‘fussy’ eaters
  • Refuse to eat lumpy/chewy foods
  • Generally refuse to eat

Supporting documentation

Please review the list below and ensure that you have the appropriate documentation available to submit with your request – items in bold are mandatory (by age appropriateness)

Please also see the Speech and Language Therapy Request Criteria page.

Contact information

If you are concerned about a child or young person who is experiencing feeding or swallowing difficulties please contact: Emer Scanlon IMMEDIATELY on:

t: 07805 812278


Once the request for service has been accepted, you will be notified and sent an appointment.

URGENT requests will be seen as follows:
Inpatient referrals – within 2 working days
Outpatient referrals – within 5 working days

NON URGENT requests will be seen as follows:
Inpatient referrals – within 5 working days
Outpatient referrals – within 1 month


We see children as inpatients on the Neonatal Unit and Bramble Ward at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, at Honeylands Specialist Children’s Assessment Centre and at home or in nursery or school. We also see children at the Videofluoroscopy (swallow x-ray) X-Ray department at the RD&E Hospital.