Somek & Associates' Jessica Thurston, Head of Medico-legal Operations and...
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BSc Speech & Language Therapy
I qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) in 2009. Upon graduating, I moved to England and commenced my professional career. I have worked in a number of major London hospitals and have specialised in head and neck cancer, particularly laryngectomy and surgical voice restoration (SVR) since 2013.
I work across the entire head and neck cancer pathway, from pre-diagnosis to survivorship. I am skilled in counselling, diagnosis and rehabilitation of cancer-related impairments of swallowing, speech, airway and voice. I am highly competent in the instrumental assessment of dysphagia and voice disorders, including videofluoroscopy, videolaryngoscopic evaluation and flexible endoscopic evaluation. I also have significant experience of working with altered airway cases including tracheostomy and laryngectomy/extended laryngectomy.
I am an experienced manager, and I am currently the clinical team lead of the head and neck cancer speech and language therapy team based at the Churchill Hospital, part of the Oxford University Hospital Trust, managing a team of four clinicians. I am also the lead videofluoroscopy and FEES clinician for Oxfordshire. I specialise in laryngectomy and surgical voice restoration, as well as surgery and/or chemoradiotherapy-induced dysphagia and dysarthria. I am also experienced in rehabilitation for cancer-related voice disorders, and sarcoma/proton-beam radiotherapy induced dysphagia.
I contribute to research projects both within the specialism of head and neck cancer, and also within complex dysphagia aetiologies. I have also contributed to national guidelines relevant to my specialism. During my career, I have completed a wide range of post-graduate training, including advanced laryngectomy training, advanced communication skills, altered airway management and MBSiMP certification in videofluoroscopy. I am a level three practitioner in flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing.
I accept instructions from both claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses.