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Children North East (CNE) Poverty Proofing© Health Team

What is Poverty Proofing© in Healthcare Services?

Children North East, a charity based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, devised a programme called Poverty Proofing©. It helps organisations remove the financial barriers those living on low incomes face when accessing key organisations and services. It started in schools and now the charity works with arts and cultural venues, leisure centres, early years’ settings, and healthcare services.

This is what we do when we poverty proof a healthcare service:

  1. Training - We train all the staff so they have an awareness and understanding about poverty and why it’s hard to look after your health when you have little or no money. This helps them to be more sensitive and understanding when they care for people.
  2. Consultation - We talk to as many patients as possible. We also speak to their families, carers, and other people who live in their community. This is because it is their experiences and views that help us understand what works and what needs to be changed.
  3. Feedback and report – We provide the person in charge with feedback based on what people told us in the consultation. We give them a report detailing what they could change to make things more welcoming and easier for people.
  4. Review – after 6-12 months we go back to the service and speak to people again to find out what difference has been made because of the Poverty Proofing©.

There are around 14.4 million people living on a low income in the UK. This impacts health. Someone on a low income is more likely to:

  • Die younger
  • Have fewer ‘healthy’ years
  • Be unable to access a healthy lifestyle especially things like nutritious food and exercise
  • Have poorer mental health
  • Have smaller babies and babies with a shorter life expectancy
  • Breathe poorer air
  • Live in poor housing
  • Suffer from avoidable illnesses caused by these inequalities

Someone who lives in an affluent part of Newcastle can expect to live to 74.8 years, that is 11 years longer than someone from a poorer part of the city who on average would live to only 63.8. This is unfair and it’s not right. The NHS has a role to play in stopping this from happening.

  • We can make sure people do not have to miss work to attend appointments
  • We can make sure appointments are at a time when people have childcare available
  • We can cluster appointments together, saving time and money spent travelling to multiple appointments
  • We can try to offer appointments closer to where people live so they don’t have to pay for expensive hospital parking
  • We can make sure we have an NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme that helps people with the costs of travelling to and from medical appointments
  • We can make sure we advise and support people to get financial help towards prescriptions, travel, maternity care, and other healthcare costs when they are entitled
  • We can think more sensitively about what we prescribe and how we talk to patients, for example not assuming they can afford certain a certain type of diet or exercise regime without talking to them about what they can manage.

These are just a few examples, if you have ideas you would like to talk about based on your own experience, please do contact a member of the team.

Our work

Our goal is to make sure that all financial barriers are removed from Healthcare Services delivered under the North East and North Cumbria ICB.

Click here to see a copy of the work plan for Poverty Proofing© Health within the NENC.

What are we doing at the moment?

We are in the process of Poverty Proofing© a number of healthcare services and pathways. These have been selected as ‘exemplar pathways.’ What this means is that because we do not have the time to ‘poverty proof’ every single service (there are too many!) we are going to do a few and then take the learning and use it to develop ways of working that other services can use. The ones we are doing are:

  • GP practices in Darlington
  • Alcohol services in Sunderland
  • Maternity Booking Assessment in James Cook Hospital
  • The Waiting Well Service (for people on a waiting list for an operation)
  • Maternity Services at Northumbria Healthcare Trust
  • Gateshead Paediatric Asthma Service
  • Gateshead Paediatric Epilepsy Service

We are working on a Poverty Proofing© toolkit for the North East and North Cumbria ICS.

We are working on a Poverty Proofing© pledge that organisations can sign up to.

We will develop standards (things organisations can put in place) which shows that they are a ‘poverty proofed’ organisation.

We can offer a range of training options for healthcare organisations. See the Training section for more information.

We are also developing a programme of Poverty Proofing© Studies, click here to access the website and keep an eye on this site as this is where the resources, materials and training sessions will be.

Children North East head office is at

89 Denhill Park
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE15 6QE

Tel: 0191 256 2444


Name Job title Email

Emma Leggott

Poverty Proofing© Health Team Manager


Ailbhe Cashman

Poverty Proofing© Health Co-ordinator


Beth Hetherington

Poverty Proofing© Health Co-ordinator


Julie Pike

Poverty Proofing© Health Co-ordinator


Lesley Barron

Poverty Proofing© Health Co-ordinator


Eva Thwaite

Poverty Proofing© Health Support Worker


We can offer this Poverty Proofing© training now:

  • Awareness Level – online / introductory Poverty Proofing© training for all staff
  • Skills Level:
    • Half-day in person guided self-assessment of your service
    • We can also embed Poverty Proofing© Training at a Trust level into leadership programmes, CPD days, practice sessions and so on.
  • Master Level – Delivery Partner Training – two full days of Train the Trainer so we can support you to ‘Poverty Proof’ your own service as part of an ongoing partnership with Children North East.

If you are interested in Poverty Proofing© training for your team or for any Poverty Proofing© related enquires please contact emma.leggott@children-ne.org.uk

In the meantime, the following resources might be useful:

Poverty Proofing© Diabetes Report

Poverty Proofing© Workforce Guide for Diabetes

Poverty Proofing© by Emma Leggott, Team Manager

NIHR Research Article on Poverty Proofing© Health


Poverty is emotive. A label nobody wants. But Government figures show that 14.5 million people live in poverty, including 4.2 million children. That's an average of nine in every class.

Most children in poverty have at least one parent in paid work, and many more don’t hit the official ‘poverty line’ but their everyday life is a struggle just the same.

When it comes to healthcare, poverty brings its own set of problems. Suppose your child has a condition like type 1 diabetes.

It's expensive to manage. You’ll need regular hospital visits, and a smartphone for the diabetes apps. Then there are treatments for hypos that aren’t always available on prescription - patients buy the sugary snacks, dextrose products and high sugar snacks needed in a hypo emergency from their own pocket.

Regular appointments cost money, time and energy. Stressful for anyone but possibly the last straw for a very low-income family. Travel's not a short walk to a local clinic – it's more likely public transport to a central location, petrol and parking or a taxi to juggle a vital appointment with the school run. Then there's lost earnings, extra childcare, or free school meal replaced with an expensive meal deal because it’s the only available option.

It sounds overwhelming – but there's a lot the NHS can do to help. Working with North East and North Cumbria ICB, my team at Children North East leads 'poverty proofing audits' with one clear aim: to ensure that people living in poverty aren't further disadvantaged when accessing healthcare.

Read the full blog here.


Video of the work plan for Poverty Proofing© Health.


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