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Published On: April 12, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

Closing the Gender Health Gap: Women’s Health Strategy – Call for Evidence

To mark International Women’s Day the government launched a 12 week call for evidence, to collect views on women’s experiences of the health and care system in England. The aim is to inform priorities, content and actions in a new Women’s Health Strategy.

The consultation will run for a period of 12 weeks, closing on 30 May 2021, and can be accessed here.

Responses are welcomed by women, people who live with and care for women, organisations and services for women and experts in women’s health.

Women’s Health Strategy

The landmark government-led Strategy aims to ‘set an ambitious and positive new agenda to improve health and wellbeing of women across England’ and ‘to place their voices at the centre of their care’.

The ministerial foreword recognises ‘for generations women have lived with a health and care system mostly designed by men, for men’ and the ‘male by default’ problem must be put right.

There is strong evidence for the need for greater focus on women’s health, to recognise and act on the inequalities:

  • In the UK women have a longer life expectancy than men. However, women spend around a quarter of their lives in ill health or disability compared with around one fifth for men. In 2019 it was published the healthy life expectancy had fallen for women, but has remained stable for men.
  • Less is known about conditions that only affect women. I wrote about endometriosis in a previous blog and the stark findings; the average time for diagnosis of 8 years, with 40% of women’s needing 10 or more GP appointments before being referred to a specialist.
  • Studies suggest gender biases in clinical trials and research are contributing to worse health outcomes for women. Although women make up 51% of the population, there is less evidence and data on how conditions affect women. For example, a University of Leeds study showed women with a total blockage of a coronary artery were 59% more likely to be misdiagnosed than men and UK women had more than double the rate of death in the 30 days following heart attack compared with men.
  • Evidence suggests female-specific health conditions such as heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, pregnancy-related issues and the menopause are under researched and overlooked. This includes the effect on women’s workforce participation, productivity, and outcomes.
  • Independent reports and enquiries such as Paterson Inquiry Report, First do not harm report and MBRRACE- UK Enquiry into Maternal Death demonstrate the broad scope of women who the healthcare system failed to keep safe .

The Strategy will consider six core areas of women’s health across the life course:

  1. Placing women’s voices at the centre of their health and care.
  2. Improving the quality and accessibility of information and education on women’s health.
  3. Ensuring the health and care system understands and is responsive to women’s health and care needs across the life course.
  4. Maximising women’s health in the workplace.
  5. Ensuring research, evidence, and data support improvements in women’s health.
  6. Understanding and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s health

The call for evidence seeks to examine the experiences of the whole health and care system and it is hoped the Strategy will help towards shaping a future system that works for women and to lessen the current gaps in provision.

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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