Impact of health inequalities in early years to be investigated

Date: 20th January 2014
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

An inquiry that will investigate the impact of health inequalities in the early years has been launched by the Health and Sport Committee.

The Health and Sport Committee wants to determine whether early year interventions to tackle health inequalities are effective and if the current policy is working - from pre-birth services to interventions for young children.

The Committee has issued a call for evidence, asking for views on whether focusing investment on the early years is an effective way to tackle health inequalities. It will also investigate the role the health service plays in tackling health inequality through interventions in the early years.

This inquiry is part of a wider focus that the Health and Sport Committee has had on health inequalities. It undertook a scoping inquiry into the causes of health inequality and also undertook an inquiry into teenage pregnancy. The Committee is also expected to carry out a short piece of work on access to health services.

A 2008 UK Concluding Observation by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child states that "Inequalities in access to healthcare should be addressed through a coordinated approach across all government departments and greater coordination between health policies and those aimed at reducing income inequality and poverty". In January 2013, the UN Committee published General Comment 15 on the right of the child to the highest attainable standard of health (Article 24 of the UNCRC), which explores the obligations placed on governments that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and provides a framework and recommendations for concrete measures and actions that should be taken forward.

The Committee's report will be published in due course, once the committee has had the opportunity to complete the final part of its scoping exercise, which is to take evidence following the report of the Equally Well Ministerial Taskforce on health inequalities, which is expected shortly.

The closing date for written evidence is the 7th March and you can submit written evidence by emailing the Committee on

Any parliamentary debate is expected to take place after summer 2014.