Government responds to Women’s Health Strategy Consultation
In Spring of 2021, the government opened a call for evidence to collect views on women’s health from members of the public, academics, charities and campaigners. Almost 100,000 responses were received and this week the first ever Women’s Health Strategy for England was published.
The strategy sets bold ambitions to tackle deep-rooted, systemic issues within the health and care system to improve the health and wellbeing of women, and reset how the health and care system listens to women. You can read the government’s summary of the strategy here.
Minister for Women’s Health, Maria Caulfield told BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour:
“We heard from women that the system doesn’t listen to them when they come forward and ask for help with their healthcare needs. These are women often juggling jobs, young families and caring responsibilities, and unless we make it work for them, they will continue to face barriers seeking help.”
With regard to HRT shortages and cost to women, the government said:
“We have also taken action to increase access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and reduce costs of this medication. The creation of a prepayment certificate will mean women can access HRT on a month-by-month basis if need be, easing pressure on supply, paying a one-off charge equivalent to 2 single prescription charges (currently £18.70) for all their HRT prescriptions for a year. This system will be implemented by April 2023.”
“To ensure women can reliably access HRT, decisive action has been taken, including the appointment of Madelaine McTernan as chair of the HRT Supply Taskforce, and issuing of serious shortage protocols to even out distribution and provide greater flexibility to allow community pharmacists to supply specified alternatives, where appropriate.”
The government had already established the UK Menopause Taskforce – of which Dr Louise Newson is a member – and reiterated its purpose to drive forward the work on improving healthcare support for women, raise levels of awareness in the population and among healthcare professionals, encourage workplace support, and consider where further research is needed to address gaps in the evidence base for menopause treatments.
NHMS’ Lead for education, Dr Sarah Ball responded to the strategy:
“It is welcome news that the government have announced that all medical students and junior doctors will receive mandatory training in women’s health from 2024/5 as part of the Women’s Health Strategy for England. This is long overdue. With regard to the menopause, it is crucial that this strategy also delivers the necessary improvements in awareness, research and access to treatment options that half of the population will all require”