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Designated Clinical Officer (SEND)

What is a Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)?

The SEND Code of Practice (2015) directs that partners should provide a Designated Medical Officer (DMO) or Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) (SEND (or both) to support the Clinical Commissioning Group in meeting its statutory requirements for SEND. The DCO plays a key part in implementing the SEND reforms and in supporting joined up working between health services and local authorities.

The role of the DCO (SEND) in Bedfordshire

The DCO for SEND is employed by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) and provides BCCG and the Local Authority with advice in relation to strategic planning and the commissioning of services for children and young people with SEND.

The DCO can also support schools with their duties under the ‘Supporting Pupils with Medical Conditions’ guidance (

The DCO wouldn't routinely be involved in assessments or planning for individuals, except in the course of their usual clinical practice, but would be responsible for ensuring that assessment, planning and health support is carried out. (SEND Code of Practice 2015)


The DCO SEND listens to children and young people, families and professionals so that health services offer the right support / provision to ensure children and young people with SEND are able to aspire high, achieve their outcomes and reach their potential to live happy and healthy lives.

Support is designed and delivered by a range of specialist staff and providers, working with different systems and within their own sphere of expertise across Education, Health and Social Care.  The DCO aims to:

  • Improve communication and links between Health, Education and Social Care professionals to ensure coordinated and integrated services
  • Work with families and providers to secure jointly commissioned services that are identified as being appropriate to meet the needs of the local population.
  • Provide a point of contact for local authorities, schools and colleges seeking health advice on children and young people who have been identified as having SEND and when specialist health advice is required.
  • Ensure that assessment, planning and health support is carried out for children and young people with SEND, recognising the requirement to incorporate the transition to adult services and up to the age of 25 years.
  • Ensure that services are in place to support timely support for Children and Young people with a Learning Disability and/or Autism to avoid unnecessary admission to in-patient specialist placements as part of the NHS 'Transforming Care Programme' - see links and


For further information please contact:

 Jo Drew 

Designated Clinical Officer (SEND)

Quality and Commissioning Directorates

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG)

Capability House | Wrest Park | Silsoe |Bedfordshire | MK45 4HR

Telephone: 07966 767571

Secure Email:

For further information about Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) please contact the CCG on:

Other useful information in respect of Designated Clinical / Medical Officers for SEND includes:

DMO / DCO Handbook

Based on a number of events with DMOs and DCOs, The Council for Disabled Children has produced a handbook that sets out important elements of the role, an insight into how the role is emerging in different areas, together with practical examples and useful materials for practitioners and commissioners - see link (


Film: the Designated Medical Officer / Designated Clinical Officer for SEND role in 2019

Three interviews in which DMO/DCOs discuss their role and responsibilities, day-to-day work, the contribution that they make and the key challenges faced in their roles ( )

Who to contact

Contact Name
Jo Drew
Contact Position
Designated Clinical Officer (SEND)

Other Details

Age Bands
11-14 years old
18-25 years old
Parents and carers
15-17 years old
0-4 years old
5-10 years old