Designated clinical officers

The Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) Service is a team of 3 health professionals working together across the whole of Lancashire, including Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen.

They support parents and professionals and provide a strategic role supporting the health service in its implementation of the Children and Families Act.


DCOs deliver training on the EHC plan process and SEND across services, including the voluntary sector.

They also liaise with educational establishments and Youth Offending Teams to support children and young people with medical conditions.

EHC plan process

The DCOs role in the EHC plan process is to:

  • Coordinate EHC assessments with other statutory health assessments
  • Answer EHC plan queries linked to health provision from parents and professionals
  • Provide a clear process for mediation and oversight of tribunals where there is disagreement regarding the health provision contained in an EHC plan.

The service also coordinates and offers quality assurance of health advice as part of the wider EHC plan process. They are working to improve and simplify the process for submitting advices and implement an audit tool to identify good practice and areas for improvement when writing EHC plan advices.

Communication and joint working

The service aims to improve communication and links between health, education and social care professionals to ensure coordinated and integrated services.

They act as a single point of access for partner agencies and professionals to improve liaison and communication.

They ensure robust processes are in place to allow for the early identification of children with SEND.

They will work with families and providers to secure jointly commissioned services that are identified as being appropriate to meet the needs of the local population.


North - Lancaster, Wyre and Fylde

DCO North (North Lancashire and Blackpool)

Kathleen Freear Tel: 01253 956 168 Email:

East - Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale

DCO Pennine (East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen)

Carole Kay Tel: 01254 612 722 Email:

South - Preston, South Ribble, Chorley and West Lancashire

DCO South (South Lancashire)

Anne Hardman Tel: 01254 612 723 Email: