Back in March, the UK government launched a call for evidence to better understand women’s experiences of the health and care system. Originally intended to run for a period of 12 weeks, the call for evidence has now been extended, with women from Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, those living in the Midlands and East of England, women between 16-18 years old and those over-50 being urged to contribute their experiences to help the shape the future of women’s healthcare.
There has already been an incredible response to the call for evidence, with over 100,000 women, organisations, clinicians and carers sharing their experiences of the health and care system, to help inform the first ever government-led Women’s Health Strategy.
“We’ve already had a phenomenal response to our call for evidence and I want to thank everyone who has shared their invaluable and insightful experiences,” said Minister for Women’s Health Nadine Dorries. “We are opening up conversations and breaking down taboos to make sure the healthcare system is meeting women’s needs.
“However these early findings highlight the low response rate from some groups of women.
“There’s only a few days left – I urge every woman to respond to the call for evidence if they haven’t done so already, and I encourage them to tell their friends and family – it’s crucial this strategy works for all women and recognises their variety of experiences.”
The future of women’s healthcare
Announced on Monday 8 March to coincide with International Women’s Day, the evidence call will form the basis of a landmark, government-led women’s health Strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of women across England and place women’s voices at the centre of their care.
By better understanding women’s experiences, the government can ensure key parts of the health service are directly meeting the needs of women.
As such, all women are invited to contribute their experiences of health and care, as well as people who live with and care for women, organisations with experience of providing services for women and those with an expertise in women’s health.
The call for evidence identifies six key themes as priority areas. They are as follows:
- Placing women’s voices at the centre of their health and care – how the health and care system engages with and listens to women at the individual level as well as at the system level.
- Improving the quality and accessibility of information and education on women’s health – women having access to high-quality information when they need to make a decision, increasing health literacy, as well as increasing awareness and understanding of women’s health conditions among clinicians.
- Ensuring the health and care system understands and is responsive to women’s health and care needs across the life course – supporting women to maximise their health across their lives, and ensuring services are designed to maximise benefits for women.
- Maximising women’s health in the workplace – deepening our understanding of how women’s health issues can affect their workforce participation and outcomes, both with regards to female-specific issues such as the menopause, but also conditions that are more prevalent in women such as musculoskeletal conditions, depression or anxiety
- Ensuring that research, evidence and data support improvements in women’s health – inclusion of women and women’s health in research and data collection and how that information is used, and driving participation in clinical trials to support improvements in women’s health.
- Understanding and responding to the impacts of Covid-19 on women’s health – supporting women through the unique challenges they’ve faced during the pandemic.
The call for evidence is open to everyone aged 16 or over. The consultation closes at 11.45pm on Sunday 13th June 2021. You can contribute your experiences here.
Image: Getty/Angelina Bambina