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Designated healthcare services for children in care

The Designated Healthcare Service aims to ensure the good health and well-being of any child or young person who is in public care. Within the service a 'Designated Nurse' and 'Designated Doctor' work together with the child's Social Worker to promote many aspects of health and well-being in accordance with national guidance. A number of health professionals including paediatricians, health visitors and school nurses all contribute to this outcome.

As part of the service a specific Health Plan is created and implemented for each child or young person. This covers a range of health-related issues specific to the child and includes all routine vaccinations, dental care and health check-ups.

In addition to dealing with the child or young person directly, the Designated Nurse and Doctor provide health advice, support and training for Foster Carers, Social Workers and other healthcare or childcare practitioners where appropriate.

Who the service is for

The Designated Healthcare Service is for all children and young people who are in care.

Who can request the service

The service is provided automatically when a child or young person enters care. There is no application process as such.

How to access the service

Although the service is provided automatically, any healthcare or childcare practitioner/professional involved in specific cases can make contact via the Contact Point.

Next steps

When a child or young person first enters the process, they are given an initial health assessment, within the first few months, by a community paediatrician. A health care plan is then formed specifically for each child. This covers all of their routine vaccinations and dental and health checks. 

For children under five years of age, the health assessment is reviewed every six months. For children and young people aged five and above, the time between assessments is extended to a year and is normally carried out by a school nurse. 

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