It is easy to take the simple things in life for granted like speaking, drinking, eating and swallowing. 

But for some individuals born with cleft lip and palate and complex speech disorders due to the palate not closing properly (which may be part of a number of different syndromes), the effects on day-to-day life can be profound.

Many of these patients, both children and adults, attend the specialist Regional Palatal Investigation Clinic, run monthly by the Spires Cleft Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

As we approach Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week, we are delighted to announce that we have been able to support this team by funding an important new piece of equipment called a video nasendoscopy system.

This system produces very high-quality images of the palate and enables surgeons and specialist Speech and Language Therapists to make quicker decisions without the need for additional investigations.

A small flexible scope with an integral camera is passed down the nose to film the back of the throat whilst the patient is speaking and their soft palate is moving.

These video images then form a key component of the surgical planning process.

Mr Marc Swan, Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, told us: “We are very grateful to the charity for the funding this new equipment which will help us deliver the highest quality and safest care for our patients.”

“Examinations using the new kit guide surgical decision-making and are crucial in obtaining optimal speech outcomes for patients with either cleft or non-cleft velopharyngeal dysfunction.”

“The most significant benefits of this camera system are to our patients directly, leading to fewer appointments, reduced waiting times, expanded clinical application and an increased specialist multidisciplinary service delivery.”

“In short - better patient experience with reduced pain and discomfort.”

The endoscopy system can also be used by consultants and technicians with the fitting and adjustment of prosthetic appliances in the Oral Surgery department.

This is beneficial for children and adults with palatal dysfunction in cases where surgery is not possible or recommended. 

Hazel Murray from Oxford Hospitals Charity recently watched a demonstration of the equipment from Mr Swan and Lucy McAndrew, the Deputy Lead Speech and Language Therapist.

She told us, “It’s very clear that this new system will be put to very good use over the coming years. Equipment like this, funded by our charity, can really help transform the patient experience, and we are so grateful to our kind donors who help make it all happen.”