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Feature The BMJ Interview

How the cost of living crisis is damaging children’s health

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 04 January 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:o3064

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  1. Gareth Iacobucci, assistant news editor
  1. The BMJ
  1. giacobucci{at}

Social deprivation in the UK is increasingly affecting children’s health, says RCPCH president Camilla Kingdon—and changing clinical practice. She tells Gareth Iacobucci that without policy action we are heading for a perilous situation

“A child doesn’t come into your emergency department or your clinic with deprivation on their forehead. It’s there in the background, and it’s this kind of insidious factor.”

Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, has been a paediatrician in the NHS for almost 30 years. Poverty and child health inequality have always existed in this time, but the current cost of living crisis is exacerbating the problem, with its effects presenting in children in hospitals up and down the country, she tells The BMJ.

“It’s something that’s occupying a lot of my headspace at the moment,” Kingdon says. “The more you dig, the more you find.”

From a clinical perspective, Kingdon, a consultant neonatologist in London, believes that social deprivation is a “far bigger problem” for children’s health now than it was 5-10 years ago.

In response to what paediatricians are seeing, the college has become increasingly outspoken on the issue and has developed a toolkit to encourage its members to be more “professionally inquisitive” about poverty’s effects on children’s health.1 For example, it encourages them to understand how child poverty is defined in the UK, how to develop clinical skills for talking to families, how to prepare their own quality improvement project, and how to influence local children’s services.

“We are absolutely compelled by the evidence out there around …

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