SEND Health Services Overview

Little boy with doctor

Health services for children with special educational needs and disabilities

Cambridgeshire has a wide range of health services for children and young people including GPs, pharmacists, dentists, opticians and hospital services. These services are known as ‘universal’ because they are available to everyone.

To find your nearest service go to NHS Choices and enter your postcode or use the app on the Health Homepage.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities will need support from different health services at different stages in their lives.

Descriptions of health professionals who may be involved in healthcare for children and young people with disabilities are shown below.

Services by Age Group

0 -16 years

Children aged 0-16 will access children’s services, usually through their GP, health visitor or paediatrician, and usually led by their parent carer or guardian. Information on Cambridgeshire’s Children and Young Peoples’ Health Services.

14 years plus

If you are aged 14 years or over, you and have a learning disability you are entitled to a free annual health check from your GP.

16 years plus

If you are aged 16+ years old and up, then you will start to access some adults’ services and take the lead in making decisions about your health.

If you are under 18 with a learning disability, then you will still be able to access children’s services but will also have more of a say about your care. You are also entitled to an annual health check.

18 years plus

If you are 18 + you will access adult health services.

Who do you ask for help? Universal Services

Universal health services, also called primary services are health services that everyone in the population can access. They act as the ‘front door’ of the NHS and a referral is not required for them.

Building a relationship with universal health services is important from the moment your child is born and throughout their development.

They are your first point of contact if you have concerns or questions about your child’s health.

They can help with a wide range of health issues and any concerns you might have about your child’s development. They can also refer you to specialist health services depending on your child’s needs.

Primary services include:

  • General Practitioners (GP)
  • Dentists
  • NHS 111
  • Urgent care centres & minor injury units
  • Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E)
  • 0 – 19 Healthy Child Programme (includes Health Visiting Service (0 – 5) and School Nursing Service (5 – 19)
  • The Family Nurse Partnership
  • Opticians

Find out more on our webpage about universal health services.

Who do you ask for help? Specialist Health Services

Some children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities will have more complex needs and may need more specialist services, also called ‘secondary services’.

These include:

  • Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Children's Community Specialist Nurses
  • Community Paediatricians
  • Psychology Children's Service
  • Hospital Services
  • Specialist Nutrition and Dietetic Service
  • Specialist Dental Service

You can find out more about these specialist health services on the Specialist Health Services page.

Life-limiting needs and palliative care

Palliative care

If you have been told that you or your child may not get better, you might also have heard about palliative care.

Palliative care is for people living with a terminal illness where a cure is no longer possible. It is not just for people diagnosed with terminal cancer, but for any terminal condition.

It is also for people who have a complex illness and need their symptoms controlled. Although these people usually have an advanced, progressive condition, this is not always the case.

Palliative care aims to treat or manage pain and other physical symptoms. It will also help with any psychological, social, or spiritual needs. Support may involve medicines, therapies, and any other support that specialist teams believe will help. Palliative care also includes caring for people who are nearing the end of life. This is called end-of-life care.

The goal is to help everyone affected by the diagnosis to achieve the best quality of life.  Find out more on our Life Limiting Needs and Palliative Care page.

Your local commissioners

NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is responsible for commissioning most of the healthcare for the people of Peterborough and Cambridgeshire including GPs, acute hospitals, community, and mental health services.

Find out more on our Commissioning Health Services page.

Preparing for Adulthood

A parent carer or guardians role changes as children take legal responsibility for their health, but many will still need help and support to do so. You can find out more on our preparing for adulthood pages.

The Preparation for Adulthood Parent’s Guide has lots of information to help support the changes roles and responsibilities, as well as wider information useful for those who have a child aged 14 years plus.

Annual Health Checks:

If you are aged 14 years or over, you and have a learning disability you are entitled to a free annual health check from your GP. You can find out more on the Learning Disability Annual Healthcare Check page.

Healthcare Plans and Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

Children with health needs may need a Healthcare Plan. This would be appropriate where health alone is the need, rather than health with educational and social care needs.

The Department for Education’s Statutory Guidance Supporting pupils with medical conditions at school (2014 and 2017) sets out that:

  • Pupils at school with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips and physical education.
  • Governing bodies must ensure that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils at school with medical conditions.
  • Governing bodies should ensure that school leaders consult health and social care professionals, pupils, and parents to ensure that the needs of children with medical conditions are properly understood and effectively supported.

For those children with complex needs that cannot be met by the support put in place by their school or college, an EHC assessment may be required.  More information about EHCPs.

A-Z of Health Services
What to do if your child has symptoms of COVID-19

Children and young people aged 18 and under can get coronavirus (COVID-19), but it's usually a mild illness and most get better in a few days.

Your child should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and they either:

  • have a high temperature
  • do not feel well enough to go to school, college or childcare, or do their normal activities

They can go back to school, college or childcare when they feel better or do not have a high temperature.

If your child has mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough, and they feel well enough, they can go to school, college or childcare.

Encourage your child to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and to wash their hands after using or throwing away tissues.

Find out more on the NHS webpage.

Related Pages

  1. Universal Health Services
  2. Specialist Health Services
  3. Common Health Concerns
  4. A to Z of Health Services
  5. Life limiting needs and palliative care
  6. Commissioning Health Services


Skip back to top of page