Dr Paula Leslie

Dr. Paula Leslie

Senior Lecturer Speech and Language Therapy

School of Sport and Health Sciences

+44 (0) 1772 89 3638


Subject Areas: Speech and Language Therapy

Paula joined the NHS in Middlesbrough as a Speech and Language Therapist in 1995 and the rest was an accident. Interests in bioethics, end of life, and decision making with vulnerable populations, grew from clinical specialisms working with those who stammer, and those with eating and drinking difficulties. In 2019 returned to the UK after 12 years in the USA and delighted to join the team bringing Speech & Language Therapy to UCLan.

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Paula maintains full clinical speech and language therapy (pathology) licenses in the USA (CCC-SLP) and UK (FRCSLT) where she is a Specialist Adviser to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in swallowing disorders. Paula started out as a speech and language therapist wanting to work only with adults who stammer, worked in almost every area of speech and language therapy in the NHS, and ended up specializing in decision making and ethics. A stint as a research assistant in stroke issues, led to collaborations, programme design, a decade abroad, and a degree in bioethics.

Her interests include the process of clinical decision making, health professionals’ education and non-traditional routes to advanced clinical training. She publishes, provides support to researchers, and provides continuing education from grassroots to international level and across the health professions on complex clinical decision making, ethics and end of life decisions in vulnerable populations. From this work came the idea for a little book to help those on the frontline and their students:

Leslie, P & Crawford, H. (2017). The Concise Guide to Decision Making and Ethics in Dysphagia. Guildford: J&R Press Ltd.

  • MA Bioethics, Institute of Bioethics & Health Law, University of Pittsburgh, 2016
  • PhD Swallow Dynamics: Development of novel assessments, Newcastle University, 2004
  • BSc (Hons) Clinical Language Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University, 1995
  • RSA Certificate Counselling Skills in the Development of Learning, 1991
  • BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, University of Lancaster, 1987


Askren, A., & Leslie, P. (2019). Complexity of clinical decision making: consent, capacity, and ethics. Semin Speech Lang, 40(3), 162-169

Leslie, P., & Casper, M. (2015). Ethical challenges: less about moral wrongdoing and more about communication breakdown. SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, 20(3), 72-84

Leslie, P., Sandsund, C., & Roe, J. (2014). Researching the rehabilitation needs of patients with life-limiting disease: Challenges and opportunities. Progress in Palliative Care, 22(6), 313-318

Rourke, N., & Leslie, P. (2013). Sacramental swallow: how swallowing informs eucharistic theology. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 13(2), 253-262

More publications

Teaching Activities

Programme Lead for MSc pre-reg Speech and Language Therapy | Research supervisor MSc pre-reg Physiotherapy | Research supervisor MSc pre-reg Occupational Therapy


Fellow Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Health and Care Professions Council Registered

American Speech-Language Hearing Association Certified CCC-SLP (USA)

Pennsylvania State Licensure in Speech-Language Pathology (USA)

Member Dysphagia Research Society (USA)

Founding Member UK Swallow Research Group

Member American Society of Bioethics and Humanities

Advancing Dysphagia Practice (https://advancingdysphagiapractice.com/)

External Affiliations and Roles

ASHA Special Interest Group 15 - Gerontology (Co-ordinating Committee 2019-present)

ASHA Special Interest Group 13 - Swallowing Disorders (Editorial board 2013-present)

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Geriatric Course Planning Committee (2015-present) with specific responsibility for the Advance Care Planning Module

UK Swallow Research Group (Founding Member & Scientific Chair)


2018       Charleston Swallow Conference, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL: “Instrumental Assessment: Is it always appropriate? Complexity of clinical decision making: ethics, vulnerable populations and end of life”

2018       ASHA Convention Boston, MA, Swallowing/Feeding and Associated Disorders Topic Short Course “Navigating Dysphagia Decision-Making, Medical Futility & Moral Distress” with Lynne Brady Wagner, Martha Jurchak, Kerri Kennedy, Nicholas Sadovnikoff

2019       Kentucky Speech-language Hearing Association, Lexington, KY: “How understanding ethics saves us from clinical practice headaches” mandatory State Ethics requirement

2019       American Speech-language Hearing Association Continuing Professional Development Webinar: “How reflecting on ethics and evidence helps SLPs to contribute to the interprofessional care of patients and families with feeding and swallowing difficulties.”

2019       Ohio Speech-language Hearing Association, Columbus, OH: “Ethics and palliative care: introduction to the importance for audiology and speech-language pathology services” mandatory State Ethics requirement

2019       Ascension Rehabilitation Services & Concordia University Wisconsin, WI:” Dysphagia and decisions:  can ethics ease the burden?”