Health inequalities tool 5 - Take national political action

Across the UK, child health inequalities are widening. They are avoidable and unfair.

That is why almost 1,100 child health professionals signed open letters calling on political leaders across the UK to #ShiftTheDial on child health inequalities.
Icon of hand holding placard - background of repeated icon of family

Our open letters calling on political leaders in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to #ShiftTheDial on child health inequalities were sent - see more details below.  

We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who added their name to these letters - thank you! With this support, we hope the Prime Minister in England, First Ministers in Wales and Scotland and the political leadership of Northern Ireland listen and act on health inequalities driven by poverty.

What we've done in each UK nation


We initially sent our letter to then Prime Minister Liz Truss. On 25 October 2022, Rishi Sunak became PM, and we resent the letter to his office. You can download the letter below.

We also ran an action that enabled you to write to your MP to ask them to raise the issue of health inequalities and poverty in Parliament. This is now closed.

On 24 January 2023, we received a response to our letter addressed to the Prime Minister (download below) from the Minister responsible for children’s health at the Department for Health and Social Care. In the letter, the Minister, Neil O’Brien MP: 

  • Reiterated the Government’s ambition to improve healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035 and reduce the gap by 2030.  
  • Noted the Government is focused on major conditions that contribute to early mortality and reduce years of good health, as well as smoking, poor diet and alcohol.  
  • Said he knows health inequalities start to develop from birth and noted the Government’s investment in Family Hubs and Start for Life.  

We are disappointed the Health Disparities White Paper was dropped two days after we received this letter. We will continue to lobby the Government and MPs to persuade them that action is desperately needed on health inequalities and the drivers, including poverty.  

Northern Ireland

We are glad to report that we’ve received ministerial responses to the poverty driven health inequalities open letter our members in NI supported (download below).

The current Minister for Health, Robin Swann has:

  • accepted and acknowledged the need for greater focus on health inequalities and the wider determinants of health within the NI Executive 10-year Children and Young People’s Strategy
  • welcomed the voice of children and young people on the dire impact of health inequalities as detailed in Everyone deserves the world
  • clarified that the Department of Health are working cross-departmentally and with the V&C sector to ensure that the promised anti-poverty strategy mitigates the impact of poverty and tackles the conditions that create health inequalities
  • stated that in developing the new Integrated Care System, the Department of Health will embed the need to address health inequalities, and
  • clarified that the Department of Health will soon commence review of the Making Life Better public health framework following a pause due to COVID.

We will be following up directly with civil servants and monitoring political developments to ensure these commitments are followed through.


On 10 October 2022, the Scottish First Minister announced that the final Scottish Child Payment bridging payment will be doubled. We welcomed this news; indeed, it was one of our calls in our original draft letter to the FM.

We adapted the letter, and have now sent it to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on 15 November - which you can download below.

We are awaiting a response.


We sent our letter to the Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford on 17 October 2022 - which you can download below

We are awaiting a response.

We will have more opportunities for you to campaign on health inequalities. Please check back here to find out how you can take action. If you use Twitter, follow us @RCPCHtweets or #ShiftTheDial, or like our Facebook page.

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