Healthy Start is a UK Government initiative to improve the health of pregnant women and families on benefits and tax credits.
Those eligible get vouchers which can be exchanged for liquid cows’ milk, infant formula and fresh and frozen fruit and veg. Free vitamins for pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children eligible for the scheme are also available.
Vouchers valued at £3.10 are payable to pregnant women eligible for the scheme and to some mums with children under four, while those eligible with children in their first year can get £6.20 vouchers.
However, there is concern in the Highlands that not everyone who is eligible for the vouchers receives them.
NHS Highland community midwife Lorna MacAskill said: “This is a fantastic scheme which offers significant benefits, both financially and in terms of health, and yet we know there are eligible pregnant women and mothers who, for a variety of reasons, are not accessing it.”
Now, NHS Highland has launched an awareness campaign in the hope that as many people as possible receive Healthy Start vouchers.
Lorna said: “We are advertising the scheme throughout the Highlands, and are reminding health professionals of it.
“We are also trying to encourage as many retailers as possible to sign up to Healthy Start. Lots of shops in the area accept Healthy Start vouchers but we are trying to persuade more to do so. Given the area’s geography, many people live in remote communities and may well miss out on the scheme if their local shops don’t accept the vouchers.”
Women should to contact their local midwife, health visitor or GP for more information on the Healthy Start scheme, and can also check out the website www.healthystart.nhs.uk