The Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) role supports Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB) to meet its statutory responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The DCO would not routinely be involved in assessments or planning for individuals but would be responsible for ensuring that assessment, planning and health support is carried out.

The DCO for SEND ensures health's compliance with the legislation and spirit of the SEND code of practice (under the children's and families act 2014) leading to improved outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Key components of the role are:

  • supporting joined up working between health services and the local authority, for children, young people and adult services (0 to 25 years)
  • promoting communication of advice to local authorities, schools and colleges regarding the health needs of children and young people who may have SEND
  • supporting schools, for example, with their duties under the `Supporting Pupils with Medical Conditions` guidance
  • taking a lead role in ensuring that there is an awareness and understanding of the SEND Reforms by local Health providers of services. This can be through training, or through individual discussions with teams and clinicians
  • working with health providers to ensure good quality contributions to the Education, Health and Care Plan process

The DCO for Mid and South Essex ICB, providing support for all Local Area Partnerships within the area (Southend, Thurrock, South and Mid Essex) is Gemma Stacey.

If you have any questions, please email Gemma at

Further information about Gemma

I qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 2002. I worked in a special school with children with learning disabilities and also at Colchester Hospital with adults with acquired communication and swallowing difficulties for a few years before specialising in the assessment and treatment of eating and drinking difficulties in both adults and children. In 2016 I moved into multi-disciplinary management, managing the Adult Learning Disability Therapy teams for North East, Mid and West Essex and later the North East Essex Paediatric Therapy team as well. I've also spent the past couple of years managing a range of Public Health services. I have been lucky enough to have roles which have required a significant amount of partnership working outside of my own organisation which is partly what drew me to this role!