Despite making up more than half of the UK population, women are much more likely to suffer ill health and disability throughout their lives. Therefore, a strategy targeted specifically at women’s health, and how to alleviate the problems outlined, is vital.
Women are evidently affected by many conditions which men do not suffer from, such as endometriosis and miscarriage, and clinicians need to have better knowledge of these conditions to make more informed decisions. For instance, women who have heavy, painful periods are told their problems are ‘normal’ or the affected woman will ‘grow out of them’, without investigating the issue. Indeed, it has also been shown through extensive research that women often feel their problems are ignored or overlooked, and more must be done to tackle this bias.
This 10-year strategy, led by the new Women’s Health Ambassador for England Dame Lesley Regan, will aim to solve some of these longstanding issues and others, including how women are impacted by diseases differently from men and disparities in health outcomes compared to men.
Dame Lesley, in her foreword, has identified menstruation as the most important single area to improve for women, as it affects women for roughly half of their lives and links to many other issues, such as contraception, menopause and miscarriage. She states that contraception is the best, most cost-effective bulwark against unwanted pregnancies and is often used as the first option to treat menstrual issues, while miscarriage remains an unfortunate taboo and the menopause is not adequately combatted.
The strategy will build upon the NHS’ ‘Our Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England’, published in December last year. Additionally, through the NIHR, the NHS is establishing a Policy Research Unit dedicated to reproductive health, which undertake research to inform government policy in areas such as menstrual health, gynaecological conditions and menopause. ICSs should also take note of the strategy’s ambitions and recommendations when developing their local plans.
We have analysed the entire report in order to alert members to any policies or announcements which are pertinent to our industry. If any important new information related to this strategy emerges, we will update members accordingly.
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