Government announces first Women's Health Strategy for England
Women in the UK are at a disadvantage when it comes to health, but the Government aims to change this with its first Women’s Health Strategy for England.
In her foreword to the Strategy policy paper, women’s health ambassador Professor Dame Lesley Regan notes that in 2014, England’s chief medical officer identified widening differences between men’s and women’s health. These differences still exist today – and some have worsened.
The paper points out that while UK women on average live longer than men, they spend a significantly greater proportion of their lives in ill health and disability. And while women make up 51 per cent of the population, historically the health and care system has been designed by men for men. “This ‘male as default’ approach has been seen in research and clinical trials, education and training for healthcare professionals, and the design of healthcare policies and services,” it says.
This means that not enough is known about conditions that only affect women (such as menopause or endometriosis) or about how conditions that affect men and women in different ways (such as cardiovascular disease and dementia). It has also resulted in inefficiencies in how services are delivered.
The Strategy aims to boost health outcomes and “radically improve” how the health and care system engages with and listens to women and girls. “We will achieve this by taking a life course approach; focusing on women’s health policy and services throughout their lives; embedding hybrid and wrap-around services as best practice, and boosting the representation of women’s voices and experiences in policy-making, and at all levels of the health and care system,” it says. “We will bring together everyone across the healthcare system to act as the catalyst for the long-term change we all want to see.”