Healthcare professionals

The NHS Healthy Start scheme helps families and pregnant people on low incomes to get healthy food, milk and vitamins.

Your role

Healthcare professionals play an important part in promoting the Healthy Start scheme. You can tell eligible people about the Healthy Start online application and promote the free Healthy Start vitamins.

When people learn about Healthy Start from a healthcare professional, they’re more likely to understand the scheme and make better use of it. This is because healthcare professionals can explain the health benefits of the scheme.

Appointments and social care assessments are ideal opportunities to promote the Healthy Start scheme.

Find out more about the scheme and your role in our guide for health professionals.

You can email any questions about the scheme to healthystartdigital@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

Promoting the scheme

You can download a range of promotional materials to help you promote the NHS Healthy Start scheme.

You can email any questions about the promotional materials to communicationsteam@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

Sign up to receive updates about NHS Healthy Start by emailing communicationsteam@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

About NHS Healthy Start

Find out more information about who is eligible for the NHS Healthy Start scheme and how they can apply.

We offer an assisted application over the phone for people who cannot apply online. There’s also a translator service available.

About Healthy Start vitamins

People on the NHS Healthy Start scheme are entitled to free Healthy Start vitamins.

Healthy Start vitamins are available to pregnant and breastfeeding people, people with a child under 1 year old, and children under the age of 4. Healthy Start vitamins provide the correct amount of vitamins recommended by the government. They contain:

  • vitamins A, C and D for children aged from birth to 4 years old
  • folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin D for pregnant people, breastfeeding people, and people with a child under 1 year old

Healthy Start vitamins are important because:

  • 8% of children under 5 in the UK do not have enough vitamin A in their diet
  • families in lower-income groups tend to have less vitamin C in their diet
  • all pregnant people, breastfeeding people and young children are at risk of vitamin D deficiency (teenagers, younger adults and those from ethnic minorities are particularly at risk)

Find out more information about taking vitamins on the NHS website (opens in a new tab).

Find out more about Healthy Start vitamins.

NHS Healthy Start uptake data

This data shows the digital uptake of the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card. Scheme uptake data will be published here on a monthly basis.  

In January 2024, digital uptake was 73.9% across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Uptake data published on this website relates to the individual the benefit is meant for (the child or pregnant person). This is not the same as the number of families or households as there could be multiple beneficiaries living within one household.

England Uptake Data (Excel: 36KB)

Wales Uptake Data (Excel: 25KB)

Northern Ireland Uptake Data (Excel: 24KB)

The uptake data shows:

  • The number of children who are eligible for NHS Healthy Start (eligible beneficiaries), as provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
  • The number of people who are on the digital scheme (formerly entitled beneficiaries). This includes the number of children under the age of four and the number of pregnancies over ten weeks.

The published data reflects all people who have been accepted onto the scheme through an online application and issued with a prepaid card at a specific point in time.

The reported percentage uptake is the number of people on the digital scheme as a percentage of the number of eligible beneficiaries.

Care should be taken in the interpretation and use of percentage uptake as:

  • Pregnancies are included in the number of people on the digital scheme as this is the most accurate data we hold. Pregnancies are not included in the eligible beneficiaries data which is provided to the NHSBSA by DWP and HMRC.
  • Both the number of people on the digital scheme and eligible beneficiaries do not include those people who are not able to make a digital application to the scheme. This includes those who receive a legacy benefit such as Income Support, or people who are under 18 and pregnant who do not receive any benefits.
  • The number of people on the digital scheme may include ineligible or duplicate applications. Following audit and investigation, if we find that the published data includes ineligible or duplicate applications, cases like this are identified and removed from the scheme and the published data will not be amended retrospectively.

When using the uptake data, please consider these limitations. If you have any questions about using the data, contact healthystartdigital@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

Historical data 

The data from September 2021 to March 2022 combines all the beneficiaries on the Healthy Start paper voucher scheme, those who had transitioned from the paper voucher scheme to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme, and those who had newly joined the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme. Both schemes were running in parallel during the transition period. Historical data should therefore not be compared to the latest dataset, which is for the prepaid card scheme only. August 2021 is the last month that is paper vouchers only. The Healthy Start paper voucher scheme ended on 31 March 2022. 

Historical eligibility data from April 2022 to December 2022 is not currently available. If it becomes available, it will be published here.  

England Uptake Data – August 2021 to March 2022 (Excel: 123KB)

Wales Uptake Data – August 2021 to March 2022 (Excel: 61KB)

Northern Ireland Uptake Data – August 2021 to March 2022 (Excel: 57KB)

The NHSBSA took over the scheme from Serco in October 2021 and then took over the reporting of data on the scheme in January 2023.  
 
For consistency, we continued to publish data in the same format that Serco reported the data.

As part of the ongoing improvements to the delivery of the scheme, we are developing an action plan to improve how the data is reported and the explanations of what the data does and does not show. This will be informed by user engagement.

From January 2024, we have changed the naming of ‘entitled beneficiaries’ to ‘people on the digital scheme’.

Questions about the uptake data can be sent to healthystartdigital@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

For media enquiries, contact communicationsteam@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

A child with knife and fork in hand about to eat a plate of vegetables

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions that people may have about the Healthy Start scheme

Alert: Our online application will be unavailable from 7am to 8:30am on Tuesday 27 February 2024

This will allow us to make improvements to the NHS Healthy Start service. We apologise for any inconvenience.