The Government Announces Plans To Tackle Gender Health Inequality In England

The first-ever Women's Health Strategy for NHS England has been published.

The first-ever Women's Health Strategy for England has been published.
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Following decades of “systemic” health inequality in England, the UK government has published the first-ever Women's Health Strategy for NHS England to tackle the gender health gap.

Although women in the UK live longer than men on average, ministers state that women in England spend a “significantly greater proportion of their lives in ill health and disability” compared to men. The 127-page strategy also states that women-specific issues, such as miscarriages and menopause, do not receive adequate attention, and women are often “under-represented” in clinical trials.

The government strategy, which is based on a Spring 2021 call for evidence that generated almost 100,000 responses, promises to introduce mandatory women’s health training for doctors, increase the funding of and access to breast cancer screenings, expand access to NHS fertility treatments, improve mental health services, and ensure women are able to obtain high-quality health information, among other pledges.

“Our health and care system only works if it works for everyone,” the Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said in a statement, describing the publication of the first-ever Women's Health Strategy for NHS England as a “landmark moment in entrenched inequalities, and improving the health and wellbeing of women across the country.”

Barclay continued, “It is not right that 51% of our population are disadvantaged in accessing the care they need, simply because of their sex.”

Acknowledging that closing the gender health gap “will not be easy,” the Minister for Women’s Health, Maria Caulfield, also made clear that the country needs to address the “deep-seated, systemic issues” to ensure that women in England “receive the same standards of care as men.”

In a statement, Caulfield added that achieving gender health equality in England cannot 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,” she added.