Specialist Health Services

Doctor with mother and child

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

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’.

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

Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)

Language milestones

Children and young people with speech, language, and communication needs may have difficulties with speech sounds, understanding speech, producing language, or using language appropriately. They may not meet the language milestones at the same time as other children, and it may be a sign of a language or speech delay or disorder.

Language and speech disorders can exist together or by themselves. Some speech difficulties may be associated with a medical diagnosis such as cleft palate, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, or a developmental delay.

Speech and language therapy provides treatment, support, and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking, and swallowing.

The Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) service in Cambridgeshire provides evidence-based support for children and young people with speech, language, and communication needs. The service also provides evidence-based support for children with dysphagia (difficulties with swallowing and/or chewing).

More information on children's speech and language therapy


What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy helps to improve and restore general movement, function, and physical activity. It is provided by specially trained and regulated practitioners called physiotherapists.

The Children’s Physiotherapy service assesses and supports infants, children, and young people up to 18 years old (19 years for some young people in specialist education). Pediatric physiotherapists bring their specialist skills as physiotherapists, with the addition of expert knowledge and experience of child development and childhood disabilities.

Occupational Therapy

What is Community Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy aims to improve a person’s ability to do everyday tasks if they are currently having difficulties. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages and can look at all aspects of daily life in the home, school, or workplace.

They support people in living as fully and independently as possible and this might involve learning new ways to do things or making changes to their environment to make things easier.

The Community Occupational Therapy service does not accept referrals for home-based equipment or adaptations.

The Children’s Occupational Therapy (OT) service helps children and young people (CYP) participate in normal everyday activities such as play, participation in school/nursery as well as managing personal care (dressing, bathing, getting on and off the toilet and getting in and out of the bath).

They also support CYP by giving advice on adapting environments both at home and at school to make these safe and accessible. They want to help children and young people lead full and happy lives, realise their potential, and take part as valued members of their community. They support a family to help their child.

The Occupational Therapists and support staff work as part of a multi-disciplinary/multi-agency team to provide an integrated family-centered approach to therapy provision. 

Children's Community Specialist Nurses

Providing nursing to children with complex needs at home

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Children's Community Specialist Nurses provide nursing to children with complex needs at home. They are a multi-disciplinary team working in the community across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

They provide care for children and young people from 0 up to their 18th birthday who:

  • Need acute short-term interventions to enable them to be cared for at home
  • Have complex healthcare needs/long-term conditions requiring nursing support/intervention
  • Require palliative and end-of-life care
Hospital Services


In Cambridgeshire the local hospitals are:

Addenbrookes in Cambridge

Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon

There are other hospitals, some offering universal services and others with specialist services and known as being leaders in certain medical fields, like heart surgery or children’s plastic surgery.

When you are referred to services that are in a hospital you will be sent to the right clinic in the right hospital for your child’s needs. This may be your nearest hospital, but it can sometimes mean you need to travel further to the hospital to offer what is needed.

Other hospitals in the area are:

Peterborough City Hospital

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn

Your child may be referred to a hospital with a specialist hospital or unit such as Great Ormond Street which is one of 30+ children’s hospitals in the UK.

If you need help and advice about your treatment in the hospital, contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for the individual hospital.

Specialist Nutrition and Dietetic Service

What are the specialist nutrition and dietetic service?

The Nutrition & Dietetics team at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) provide tailored nutrition and dietetic advice to people aged 16 years and over.

They support them to improve their health by making the appropriate lifestyle and food choices. The team also provides assessment and treatment for those who need therapeutic diets and/or nutritional support. The wide range of the services they offer include the following:

  • Nutritional support
  • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Gastroenterology conditions
  • Mental health problems
  • Specialist home enteral feeding

They provide services in a variety of settings including GP practices, health centres, care homes, people's own homes, also on the phone or via the internet.

They also run a number of group sessions for patients, including:

  • Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly diagnosed for those with Type 2 diabetes (DESMOND)
  • Peterborough dose adjustment course (PDAC) for those with Type 1 diabetes
  • iCAN course for those with diabetes to better understand carbohydrates
  • Carbohydrate counting course for those with type 1 Diabetes
  • FODMAP reintroduction groups
  • Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation groups.

In addition, the team gives talks and provides training to other health care professionals about diet, nutrition, and any related subjects, keeping up to date with the latest scientific research. Referrals can be made by GPs and other healthcare professionals. They look at all referrals to decide the most appropriate service for each one. The clinical bases are accessible to those with a disability.

Please ring the team before your appointment to discuss any requirements.

Specialist Dental Service

Improving the oral health of children and adults with disabilities

Some children and young people’s health needs mean that they struggle to access ordinary dental services. The special care dental service. provides a comprehensive range of activities to improve the oral health of children and adults who have a physical, sensory, intellectual mental, medical, emotional, or social impairment or disability, which makes routine care in general dental practice unsuitable or impractical for their needs.

Patients are only accepted by the service by referral from your GP.

To find out more about the community dental care contact NHS England on 0300 311 2233.

You can also call the NHS non-emergency number on 111.

Related Pages

  1. Health
  2. SEND Health Services Overview
  3. Universal Health Services
  4. Common Health Concerns
  5. Life limiting needs and palliative care


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