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There are a number of health services designed specifically to support children and young people. If you are worried about the health and wellbeing of your child, you can speak to your early years setting, children’s centre staff, school staff, health visitor or school nurse or your health professional.

If they are unable to help your child themselves, they can make a referral to more specialist health services, such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry.

Designated clinical officer (DCO)

The Designated Clinical Officer Service (DCO) in Lancashire and South Cumbria consist of a team of officers and specialist administrators that support the NHS response to statutory assessments and planning for children and young people with SEND aged 0-25 years.

The DCO service have a key role in working to source relevant health information for education, health and care needs assessments. This helps to support the achievement of this principle:

Children, young people and families should experience well co-ordinated assessment and planning leading to timely, well informed decisions. (SEND Code of Practice 2015 p147).

We seek individual health advices from involved NHS health professionals involved in children and young people’s care.

At the point of requesting an assessment please ensure you provide the details of the involved NHS professionals. This will support our ability to secure and coordinate relevant health advice to inform the statutory assessment.

The DCO service:

  • Specialist administrators work closely with Local Authorities and NHS providers to co-ordinate NHS health advice requests when we are notified of a needs assessment
  • Are a point of contact for parents/carers, partner agencies and professionals to raise queries related to NHS health services and SEND when local solutions to resolve this have been exhausted
  • Works system wide to highlight themes and gaps in provision to the Integrated Care Board (ICB) and SEND Partnership Board

Parents, carers and children and young people

The DCO service work closely with parent carers in a range of different ways to include:

  • Responding to their individual enquiries
  • Attending engagement events
  • We aid the coordination and health response for SEND extended appeals and support ICB colleagues to respond to health-related SEND appeals and mediation


The DCO service are engaged in a range of improvement pieces of work across Lancashire and South Cumbria. We aim to improve standards and consistency of practice so that children and young people’s education health and care plans are of a high quality.

The DCO service host regular meetings with local NHS senior leaders for SEND in their organisations. This supports joint working between DCO service and local NHS services and raises the profile of children and young people with SEND in health.

The DCO service regularly meet with the regional DCO network and NHS England officers. This helps to share learning and standards of practice at regional and national level.


The DCO service support NHS professionals in a number of ways by offering training to enhance their existing SEND knowledge and skills. We host regular learning events and provide more targeted and bespoke support if requested.

SEND partnerships

The DCO’s are active members of local authority SEND Boards where we support decision making, checking and challenge to members and partners to aid continuous improvement for children and young people with SEND.


The DCO service provide quarterly reports to the ICB that details our key activities. Where established the DCOs also provide reports to Local Authority SEND Partnership Boards.

DCO service contacts

DCO North (Lancaster and Morecambe, Fylde and Wyre, Blackpool):

Call: 01253 956168


Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board are the responsible body that plan and organise local NHS services.

You can contact them via: LSC Integrated Care Board: Patient experience


If you have a complaint about NHS services please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for the NHS Trust the complaint relates to.

The full complaints policy can be found on the Trusts websites or by requesting a copy from PALS.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals - Children's services

You can find what health services are available on the BTH childrens services website.

Community physiotherapy and occupational therapy

The community physiotherapy and occupational therapy team work with children with long term and life limiting conditions and mobility problems.

Physiotherapy helps to manage pain and maintain mobility.

Occupational therapy can help you take part in day to day activities such as playing, eating, going to school and continue to grow and develop.


Audiology is the science of hearing and vestibular (balance) function. Audiology services provide a range of hearing tests for all ages (from birth upwards) and vestibular (balance) function testing. We also work with individuals giving rehabilitation for hearing difficulties in the form of hearing aids, information and advice, tinnitus management and help with balance problems.

The audiology department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is located in Area 1 of main outpatients, next to the ear, nose and throat clinic.

Paediatric consultant

A paediatric consultant is a senior doctor who has spent a lot of time studying and working with poorly children. Some consultants have specialist areas, this means that they know and study a lot about a specific illness or condition and are the best people to see patients who have those conditions.

If your child has special educational needs or a disability then they are probably under the care of a paediatrician who will ask to see your child for regular reviews


CAMHS is used as a term for all services that work with children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional or behavioural wellbeing.

Children and young people may need help with a wide range of issues at different points in their lives.

Parents and carers may also need help and advice to deal with behavioural or other problems their child is experiencing.

Parents, carers and young people can receive direct support through CAMHS.

Mental health services are free on the NHS, but in some cases you'll need a referral from your GP to access them.

Children’s speech and language therapy (SLT)

The Children’s speech and language therapy (SLT) service is for children with speech, language, communication and/or eating and drinking difficulties.
Speech and language therapists work with children who have difficulties with any aspect of speech, language or communication development. This might include:

  • Children who are taking longer than expected to learn to talk
  • Children with limited vocabulary, who struggle to form sentences, or who get their words and sentences muddled up
  • Children who find it difficult to understand what others are saying.
  • Children who struggle to communicate socially with others.
  • Children who struggle to say certain sounds or make themselves understood
  • Children who stammer
  • Children who have problems with their voice

The aim of the speech and language therapist is to help the child or young person to reach their full potential by providing assessment, diagnosis and intervention through programmes of activities, individual or group therapy and advice and support.

National deaf CAMHS 

National deaf CAMHS is a highly specialised mental health service for deaf children and young people with mental health issues. The service also accepts referrals for hearing children of deaf parents (see below for who this service is for).

The service operates a team around the child and family model, employing deaf and hearing staff (including psychiatrists, psychologists, specialist deaf outreach workers, nurses, social workers and interpreters) to ensure that the child and family can work in their first or preferred language in a culturally sensitive way to address their mental health needs.

The service in the north has centre's in Manchester, Newcastle and York and covers the north of England, from the North Wales border across to north Lincolnshire and up to the Scottish border. The service is flexible about where meetings and sessions take place, so it does not matter whether you live close to a centre or not.

Families can contact the service directly for advice and information about the service but referrals must be made through a professional. This can be any professional the child, young person or family is working with and include G.P, pediatrician, teacher, school or social worker.