Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has welcomed an announcement from the Scottish Government that will see more babies in Scotland get a great start through new arrangements for the distribution of Healthy Start vitamins by community pharmacies.

Visiting the Rowland’s community pharmacy in St Leonard’s, East Kilbride Linda said:

“We know giving children the best start in life lays the foundation for happy and healthy life.  The Healthy Start scheme provides vitamin supplements to low income families, in addition to vouchers towards the cost of milk, fruit and vegetables.  Under these changes to the scheme, vitamin supplements for children, pregnant women and new mothers on low incomes will now be more widely available, encouraging a greater uptake.

“Community pharmacies, such as Rowland’s in St Leonard’s, are just one of the 1,246 community pharmacies and around 120 dispensing practices across Scotland taking part in the one year pilot.

“Previously, vitamins were distributed through NHS Boards.  However, the average uptake of the scheme as a whole across Scotland was only 71 per cent, with the uptake of vitamin supplements being significantly lower. I hope this change will encourage everyone who eligible and needs these vitamins, finds it easier to receives them through their community pharmacy and we can welcome many more healthy, bouncing babies to East Kilbride.”

Hazel Sutherland, Pharmacy Manager at Rowlands said “It was great of Linda to take time to help promote the new pilot and see our recently updated premises. Healthy Start is just one of a range of NHS services community pharmacy has to offer the people of East Kilbride.”

Mark Feeney, Policy and Development Pharmacist for Community Pharmacy Scotland, added: “Community Pharmacy Scotland is always looking to engage and work in partnership with political decision makers on those policies affecting healthcare and pharmacies. It was good of Ms Fabiani to take an active interest in “Healthy Start” and the community pharmacy network in general.”

“Staff from the pharmacy kindly spent time explaining the pilot provided by over 1170 community pharmacies in Scotland.  It was useful to demonstrate to Ms Fabiani the investment in services that can make a real difference to local populations’ health and wellbeing.”

The Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said:

“There is a strong link between low income and poor nutrition in pregnant women, mothers and children.  As part of our work to address health inequalities in Scotland, we must make sure that everyone has access to all that is available.

“Vitamins are essential nutrients that help our bodies work properly. Even though we can get lots of vitamins from a healthy balanced diet, certain people still might not get everything they need at certain times in their life – such as pregnant women, a new mum or a small child.

“We know that some families have had difficulty accessing these vitamins in the past.  That is why we worked to identify a better way for these to be distributed, and I’m pleased to say that indications suggest the pilot using community pharmacies in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was a success.

“By using community pharmacies, we will ensure a consistent, easily understood and sustainable method of distribution across Scotland for those in most need of these vitamins.”

Healthy Start women’s vitamin tablets contain:

•             Folic acid: reduces the chance of your baby having spina bifida, a birth defect where the spine doesn’t form properly

•             Vitamin C: helps maintain healthy tissue in the body

•             Vitamin D: helps your body to absorb calcium and so supports your baby’s bones to develop properly.

Healthy Start children’s vitamin drops contain:

•             Vitamin A: for growth, vision in dim light and healthy skin

•             Vitamin C: helps maintain healthy tissue in the body

•             Vitamin D: for strong bones and teeth.



Picture is of Linda Fabiani MSP with the staff from Rowland’s Community Pharmacy in St Leonard’s, East Kilbride



The Healthy Start Scheme provides eligible families with vouchers that can be used in shops to help pay towards milk, formula milk, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables.  The scheme also provides coupons to exchange for vitamin supplements.

Healthy Start vouchers and coupons are provided to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and families and children up to their fourth birthday on income related benefits.  All young women who are under eighteen and pregnant are also eligible, regardless of income.

At a meeting with Healthy Start NHS Board leads, it was agreed that the preferred option for ensuring an effective distribution system was to agree a national remuneration scheme for community pharmacies.  This also ensures that community pharmacies are able to access Health Start vitamins from their own suppliers, rather than go through the NHS supply chain process.

Data on the uptake of the vitamins by community pharmacy/Board area will be analysed looking at the impact of the trial.  The Scottish Government will then use this data to look at whether it can become part of a more formal on-going agreement with community pharmacies.

Further information on the Healthy Start Scheme can be found at http://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthy-start-vouchers/healthy-start-vitamins/


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.