Former Health Minister and local MP, Dame Caroline Dinenage, warmly welcomed the first ever Women’s Health Strategy for England, which has been published today.
Caroline launched this work while she was a Health Minister (218-2020) and today, new Health Secretary, Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP published the Strategy which aims to tackle the gender health gap and increasing understanding of female specific health conditions to improve treatment for women.
“Our health and care system should work for everyone – but with 51 per cent of the population facing disadvantages in accessing the care they need based on their sex, we must do more to tackle the gender health gap.”
“This is a landmark moment in addressing entrenched inequalities and improving the health and wellbeing of women across the country.”
The Women’s Health Strategy, builds on the Vision for Women’s Health – including encouraging the expansion of Women’s Health Hubs around the country, introducing pregnancy loss certificates, providing £10 million for breast screening programmes, improving access to IVF treatment for female same-sex couples, and ensuring all doctors are trained to provide the best care for women.
Dame Caroline has previously raised the issue of inequality of access to IVF treatment in the Chamber, and has met with former Health Secretary, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, to discuss this extremely important issue.
She welcomes the fact that the Strategy will remove additional barriers including improving transparency on provision and availability of IVF so prospective parents can see how their local area performs to tackle the ‘postcode lottery’ in access to IVF treatment .
Caroline address the Health Secretary in the Chamber of the House of Commons today:
“As one of the former Health Ministers carrying the baton on this strategy for some time, I very warmly welcome my Rt Hon Friends words, and his commitment to this is so important, not least the commitment to address some of the fertility inequalities across the country.
“I met with his predecessor as my constituency is one of the areas most severely affected by this postcode inequity. As he says, there are some real health inequalities, not just for women, but between women in terms of the services that are provided. In particular, for reaching those women that are vulnerable and most hard to reach.
“It isn’t just about money – which is why I am pleased about his commitment to Women’s Health Hubs – but it is also about making sure that Integrated Care Systems have a focus on place, and have a focus on the needs of the local community. So, I would love him to commit a little more to that.
“One other thing, since 2015, there has reportedly been a 42% real terms fall in contraception spending, and so I would also like to have his commitment that this document will align with the section on Reproductive Health Action Plan.
“This is really important because for every £1 spent on these services, we save £9 on other public health spending.”
Responding, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay said:
“First of all I am very grateful for the work that she did as Health Minister in championing this agenda. She is right to highlight the issue of contraception, often there is difficulty to access that. It was very much at the heart of the responses we had on the fragmented services that many women experience.
“She will be aware that a key part of our approach is with health and wellbeing funds and working with the voluntary community center for support for example on areas such as pregnancy loss.
“But a key part of this, and the visibility of the Women’s Health Strategy putting that under for in terms of a Women’s Health Ambassador is as part of the conversations as she says with the Integrated Care Systems and to ensure that this gets greater prioritisation within the Commissioning. A key part of securing that is to have the data to demonstrate both the importance of it and the benefits of it.”
Caroline commented after the Minister’s response saying:
“As someone who has championed the Women’s Health Strategy for a long time, I welcome the Minister’s commitment to this, and I look forward to seeing the improvements this strategy will make to women’s healthcare.”