Designated Clinical Officer (DCO)

The SEND Code of Practice recommends the provision of either a Designated Medical Officer or a Designated Clinical Officer. Across County Durham, a permanent Designated Clinical Officer (DCO), was appointed in 2019 and is employed by North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System.

The DCO is the named contact for local authorities, schools and colleges seeking health advice on children and young people who may have special education needs or disabilities (SEND).

The DCO plays a key part in implementing the SEND reforms across health providers, supporting partnership working between health services and the local area and making sure that the local area meets its statutory responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs. It is a varied role but essentially involves the following:

  • Providing health advice to local authorities, schools and colleges about children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities
  • Supporting health professionals in providing timely, and good quality health advice for the EHC assessments
  • Supporting the SEND team at the local authority with questions and queries on information
  • Signposting colleagues in education to health services and professionals for advice
  • Working alongside the commissioners and stakeholders including parents, children and young people, to identify and raise any commissioning gaps some of which may require joint commissioning to resolve
  • Supporting parents by offering an expert resource for children and young people's health information, guidance, reassurance and support for families and professionals
  • Developing, improving, and influencing service design and delivery. Supporting decision making, based on clinical judgement
  • Challenging and approving packages for children and young people with SEND
  • Co-ordinating health information from various services involved with the children/young people (current and historic involvement)

Who to contact

Designated Clinical Officer

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