The letters, which you can download from the links below, are addressed to political leaders in each nation, and outline a number of key recommendations which will help shift the dial on health inequalities and improve outcomes for children and young people. These recommendations include:
- Publishing the UK Government’s long-awaited Health Disparities White Paper by the end of the year. This paper should outline how child health inequalities will be addressed.
- Recognising that children and young people are a distinct group with specific needs and requirements in all future inequalities work
- Addressing the high levels of child poverty by implementation of specific health inequality targets for key areas of child health, with clear accountability across Government
- Prioritising the formation of a Northern Ireland Executive and publishing an anti-poverty strategy and associated funding plan which places children and young people at the centre
The letters were sent to coincide with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme ‘dignity for all in practice’ touches heavily on the inequalities lower income people face in access to housing, food, and healthcare. The day aims to recognise the countless people suffering from poverty and highlight the essential global solidarity and shared responsibility we hold to eradicate poverty and combat all forms of discrimination.
RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon said:
How can it be that poverty is one of the most pressing issues for frontline paediatricians in the 4 nations of the UK in 2022? Why is it that we are needing to shout from the rooftops about widening child health inequalities and poverty in one of the richest countries in the world? The fact that hundreds of paediatricians have signed this open letter is a clear signal to governments that change is crucial.
For members of the child health workforce, inequalities are visible and ever present in our clinical interactions. It’s in the impact of poor-quality housing, the heavily polluted streets children walk along to school, and the physical health impact from a lack of nutritious food as well as rising mental health concerns.
Yet child health inequalities are not an inevitability. They are the result of unfair and systematic differences in the social determinants of health between different groups of babies, children, and young people – and poverty is a driving factor.
As child health professionals we can no longer ignore what we see. Today, on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we stand united against child health inequalities and poverty and call on UK Governments to act.
Notes to Editors
- 1,016 members of the child health workforce across the UK signed the open letters.
- 819 members of the child health workforce in England signed an open letter to the new UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss. (Following Liz Truss's resignation as PM, this letter was re-sent to newly appointed PM Rishi Sunak on 25 October.)
- 58 members of the child health workforce in Scotland signed an open letter to First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. This letter was closed on 11 October following an announcement from the Scottish First Minster. Read our response to the announcement.
- 114 members of the child health workforce in Wales signed an open letter to their First Minister, Mark Drakeford.
- 26 members of the child health workforce in Northern Ireland signed an open letter to all sitting Ministers and their party leadership.