First Women's Health Strategy for England to tackle gender health gap – GOV.UK

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The government has published the first ever Women’s Health Strategy for England to tackle the gender health gap.
Women and girls across England will benefit from improved healthcare following the publication of the first ever government-led Women’s Health Strategy for England today (Wednesday 20 July).
Following a call for evidence which generated almost 100,000 responses from individuals across England, and building on Our Vision for Women’s Health, the 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.
The strategy includes key commitments around:
Women live on average for longer than men but spend more of their life in poor health, often limiting their ability to work and participate in day-to-day activities. Closing the gender health gap and supporting women to live well will not only benefit the health and wellbeing of women, but the health of the economy.
Responses to the call for evidence highlighted a need for greater focus on women-specific health conditions, including fertility and pregnancy loss, and gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, which affects 1 in 10 women.
To support progress already underway in these areas, the strategy aims to:
This will support our ambition that national healthcare services consider women’s needs specifically and by default, and that women can access services that meet their reproductive health needs throughout their lives.
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.
Minister for Women’s Health Maria Caulfield said:
When we launched our call for evidence to inform the publication of this strategy, women across the country set us a clear mandate for change.
Tackling the gender health gap will not be easy – there are deep-seated, systemic issues we must address to ensure women receive the same standards of care as men, universally and by default.
This strategy is the start of that journey, but eradicating the gender health gap can’t be done through health services alone. I am calling on everyone who has the power to positively impact women’s health – from employers to doctors and teachers to industry – to join us in our journey.
Women and clinicians also called for the expansion of information and educational resources for women and healthcare professionals, and more cohesion in the way services are provided, making it as simple as possible for women to access the healthcare they need.
Our vision sets out that all women should have access to high-quality information and education from childhood through to adulthood, and that all women should have equal access to and experience of services, reducing disparities in outcomes.
Building on this, the strategy commits to:
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.
Feedback from thousands of women across the country revealed that they feel their voices were not always listened to, and there was a lack of understanding or awareness among some medical professionals about health conditions which affect women.
To address this, the strategy commits to:
By tackling the gender data gap through increased research, building understanding through training and tackling the root causes of why women’s voices are not always listened to, both women and clinicians should feel empowered to have more informed discussions over their care.
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 on 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.
The publication of the strategy is the latest action taken by the government to address the issues and disparities many women face. This includes appointing the first ever Women’s Health Ambassador for England earlier this year, the creation of a network of family hubs in 75 upper-tier local authorities across England, and providing protections to the millions of people who experience domestic abuse through the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
We have also taken action to increase access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and reduce costs of this medication. The creation of a prepayment certificate will mean women can access HRT on a month-by-month basis if need be, easing pressure on supply, paying a one-off charge equivalent to 2 single prescription charges (currently £18.70) for all their HRT prescriptions for a year. This system will be implemented by April 2023.
To ensure women can reliably access HRT, decisive action has been taken, including the appointment of Madelaine McTernan as chair of the HRT Supply Taskforce, and issuing of serious shortage protocols to even out distribution and provide greater flexibility to allow community pharmacists to supply specified alternatives, where appropriate.
The government has already been taking action to begin to address the issues and disparities women face, including:
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