The new plan will provide further training for healthcare workers, improve women’s access to health services and medication, and will commission research into women’s health issues.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Our health and care system only works if it works for everyone.
“It is not right that 51% of our population are disadvantaged in accessing the care they need, simply because of their sex.
“The publication of this strategy is a landmark moment in addressing entrenched inequalities, and improving the health and wellbeing of women across the country.”
What is the Women’s Health Strategy?
The Women’s Health Strategy “sets bold ambitions to tackle deep-rooted, systemic issues within the health and care system to improve the health and wellbeing of women, and reset how the health and care system listens to women,” according to a government statement.
It’s committed to “transforming the NHS website into a world-class, first port of call for women’s health information,” and will encourage “the expansion of Women’s Health Hubs around the country and other models of ‘one-stop clinics.”
The strategy includes new research into women’s health issues, training for all doctors on women’s healthcare, as well as £10 million in funding for a breast screening programme.
It was introduced following feedback from thousands of women who said they felt like they were not always listened to, and that there was a lack of understanding of women’s healthcare among medical professionals.
Women’s Health Strategy key outcomes
- Female same-sex couples will no longer have to pay for artifical insemination to prove their fertility status, and they will be able to access six cycles of artificial insemination before IVF, if necessary.
- Parents who have lost a child before 24 weeks will receive a pregnancy loss certificate.
- Specialist endometriosis services will have the most up-to-date evidence and advice.
- The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will research healthcare professionals’ experience of listening to women.
- Undergraduate medical students will undertake specific teaching and assessments on women’s health.
- A new reproductive health experience survey will be conducted every two years.
- A trauma-informed practice will be published to help ensure people affected by trauma can access the care they need.
- Access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will be improved and the cost of the medication will be reduced. A prepayment certificate will allow women to access HRT on a month-by-month basis, easing pressure on supply.
Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Health and Social Care and Chief Executive Officer of the NIHR Lucy Chappell said: “The gender health gap stems from a range of factors. Over the years, we have seen less research into health conditions that affect women and this gender data gap has had a significant contribution to the impact of such research.
“The NIHR has made good progress in this area, from increased research on conditions such as endometriosis to boosting participation of women in trials and supporting female researchers.
“The publication of this strategy builds on that progress, and will help ensure women’s voices and priorities are at the heart of research.”
Women’s Health Ambassador Dame Lesley Regan said: “Having spent my career looking after women, I am deeply aware of the need for a women’s health strategy that empowers both women and clinicians to tackle the gender health gap.
“We need to make it as easy as possible for women to access the services they need, to keep girls in school and women in the workplace, ensuring every woman has the opportunity to live her life to her fullest potential.
“This strategy is a major step in the right direction, listening to the concerns of women, professionals and other organisations to tackle some of the deep-rooted issues that we know exist.”