Healthy Start Scheme Covid-19 FAQ’s

 

Healthy Start food vouchers

What is the Government doing to support Healthy Start beneficiaries who are struggling to obtain infant formula?

The Department of Health and Social Care is aware of some recent local food stockpiling issues and is in discussion with the industry to ensure a continued supply of infant formula is available.  Additionally, the British Specialist Nutrition Association Ltd who represent manufacturers of formula, have put out a note of reassurance to parents on both their website and via Twitter to allay concerns and to ask people to be considerate in the way they shop to ensure an adequate supply of formula remains available to all.  This dialogue with the formula industry will remain active and we will continue to monitor the situation.

The Healthy Start helpline is also reminding people who wish to use their Healthy Start vouchers to purchase infant formula that they can use them in smaller local shops and pharmacies which are registered with the scheme, as well as in large supermarkets.

 

Why can’t Healthy Start vouchers be used for online shopping?

Healthy Start vouchers must be used with retailers who are registered with the Healthy Start scheme.

There are over 21,000 retail outlets registered with the Healthy Start scheme across the UK, including many independent local shops and pharmacies. You can check here which shops in your area are registered.

 

Why can’t Healthy Start vouchers be issued automatically during the Covid-19 pandemic, without people having to apply?

Healthy Start is a statutory scheme and vouchers can only be issued on the receipt of a completed application. People are not automatically enrolled but they are invited to apply – all families who are eligible for the scheme are sent a pre-populated application form.  The application form is also available on the Healthy Start website www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthy-start-vouchers/how-to-apply/online-application-form/.

We have explored automatic enrolment as part of our work on the digitisation of the scheme, but some families have indicated that automatic enrolment would not work for them where they do not wish to participate in the scheme.

 

Will the value of the Healthy Start voucher increase during the pandemic?

The Government has no current plans to increase the value of the Healthy Start voucher, but the voucher value is kept under continuous review.

 

Why are some retailers refusing to accept Healthy Start vouchers, due to a preference for contactless payments?

We have reminded retailers of the importance of continuing to accept Healthy Start vouchers, as Healthy Start beneficiaries may not have access to alternative forms of payment.

If you continue to have a problem then please let us know by calling the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823, telling us which shop and where you are.

 

Our preference is for contactless transactions – so should we be accepting Healthy Start Vitamins vouchers?

There is no electronic equivalent of Healthy Start Vitamins vouchers, which exist only in paper form. If vitamins distribution outlets have concerns about accepting paper Vitamins vouchers, they should contact the authority which commissions them to distribute vitamins, to discuss whether that authority would be content to examine other ways in which people could demonstrate entitlement to Healthy Start Vitamins.

However, we would remind distribution outlets that Healthy Start Vitamins are an important nutritional supplement for Healthy Start beneficiaries, and we would encourage distributors to ensure that they can continue to be given out where at all possible.

 

When I go supermarket shopping, I can’t find any infant formula milk? What am I supposed to do?

We know this is a concern. The Government and manufacturers are working together to ensure infant formula continues to reach the shops. The manufacturers recently published a letter about how they were responding to the current situation and to remind customers to be considerate when shopping so that there is enough for everyone. You can see their letter here

You can also use your Healthy Start vouchers in smaller local shops and pharmacies that are registered with the scheme. You can check here which shops in your area are registered.

 

Some beneficiaries are having problems obtaining infant formula milk, what help is available?

If beneficiaries are struggling to find infant formula during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, vouchers can be used to buy infant formula online from Kendamil, a UK-based supplier of infant formula.

 

Healthy Start vitamins

Healthy Start Vitamins are part of the Healthy Start Scheme. They are available in tubs of tablets for pregnant women and bottles of drops for children, and each tub/bottle contains eight weeks’ supply of vitamins. They are ordered by your organisation from NHS Supply Chain.

Further information about Healthy Start Vitamins can be found on the Healthy Start website, www.healthystart.nhs.uk and guidance on vitamin intake and supplementation can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/

 

Where can beneficiaries get Healthy Start vitamins?

There is a statutory responsibility placed on Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Authorities to ensure that Healthy Start Vitamins are made available free to Healthy Start beneficiaries. However, the means by which they are made available is for local areas to determine. Some local areas distribute them through clinics such as child health clinics and antenatal clinics, and through children’s centres. Other areas have arrangements for distribution through pharmacies and others distribute through midwives and health visitors.

The current situation we all face will inevitably have an impact on how Healthy Start Vitamins are distributed in almost all local areas. However, we do not wish to advise local areas to do anything which contravenes current general guidance to the public on vitamin supplementation. We also do not wish to advise local areas to use other vitamin products as these will inevitably be more expensive than our own Healthy Start product and they may not be suitable in any event.

 

Is the NHS Supply Chain able to distribute Healthy Start vitamins?

Both supplies and delivery of our product are still going ahead unchanged – there are plenty of supplies in stock and can be ordered in the usual way from NHS Supply Chain.

We therefore concluded that the best way forward was to ask local areas to make any changes they can to their own local distribution arrangements to take account of the current restrictions.

 

Will information be shared on the Healthy Start website?

Updates have been made to the Healthy Start website to reflect the information above.

We are also advising beneficiaries “If you use Healthy Start Vitamins, or you are a new users who wishes to pick up your supply, please contact you usual distribution outlet to see if there have been any changes to the way vitamins are currently being distributed in your local area.”

The information can be found on the pages listed below:

https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthy-start-vouchers/healthy-start-vitamins/

https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/for-health-professionals/vitamins/

 

My local pharmacy/centre won’t take my Healthy Start Vitamins voucher as they want people to use contactless payments

We have reminded local authorities and their distributors that there is no electronic version of Healthy Start Vitamins vouchers, only the paper one and that Healthy Start Vitamins are an important nutritional supplement.

If you continue to have a problem then please let us know by calling the helpline 0345 607 6823, telling us which shop and where you are.

 

Completing the HS01A (Healthy Start application form)

I can’t get an appointment to see my midwife/health visitor face-to-face. Do I still need them to sign my application form?

No as of the 6 April 2020 we no longer require the Healthy Start application form to be singed by a health professional.

 

I’ve completed my application (apart from the healthcare professional signature). Can I just send it in now?

Yes, due to a change in the law as of the 6 April 2020 you no longer need to get a health professional to sign your Healthy Start application form.  This means you can leave Part B blank. Don’t forget that you still need to sign the application in Part A, Section 7.

 

I am unable to register my child’s birth; will I still get my vouchers?

We would suggest that the beneficiary speaks to HMRC or DWP to ensure the child is included on their benefit claim in the absence of the birth certificate, so that vouchers can be issued as standard.

 

Why can’t you just issue vouchers automatically to everyone on benefits? Why do I still need to apply?

Not everyone who is on benefits or tax credits is eligible for Healthy Start vouchers and by law Healthy Start vouchers can only be issued after a completed application is received.

If you are eligible for Healthy Start vouchers, you will be invited to apply – all eligible families are sent a partly filled in form for them to complete and send back.

 

I haven’t had an application form. How do I get one?

You can find a copy on this website www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthy-start-vouchers/how-to-apply/or you can request one from the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823.                        

 

Healthy Start Vitamin Returns

Do I need to collect the Healthy Start Vitamin vouchers in order to complete the quarterly returns?

We do not require the paper vouchers, however you must ensure that you keep a record of the Healthy Start vitamins that you have provided to beneficiaries in order to complete the return form.

 

How can we sign the Healthy Start vitamin return form without access to a scanner or printer?

The Healthy Start vitamin return form that you submit each quarter has the functionality to accept a digital signature on the PDF. However, if you are unable to open the PDF because your PC does not have adobe reader, email NHSBSA.healthystart@nhs.net and request an excel version where you can take a picture of your signature and supply this as an image on the return form.

 

I am unable to complete the Healthy Start vitamin return form, can you extend the deadline?

We are unable to extend the cut off for each quarter; however, there is no time limit to prevent you from submitting your Healthy Start vitamin return later in the year. We can process your return form during any quarter.

The quarterly return dates can be found below:

Quarter Cut off
Q4 2019 -2020 30 April 2020
Q1 2020 – 2021 30 July 2020
Q2 2020 – 2021 31 October 2020
Q3 2020 – 2021 31 January 2021
Q4 2020 – 2021 30 April 2021
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