In July 2022, a landmark moment arrived for women in the UK with the release of the very first Women’s Health Strategy. Millions of women have already benefitted from access to HRT, increased cervical screening, and awareness around previously misunderstood reproductive health conditions. This week the Health Secretary announced the new priorities for women’s health in 2024. Here’s the progress we can expect over the next 12 months:
What are the government’s priorities for women’s health in 2024?
Improved Maternity Care: This part of the plan pledges better training for midwives, expanded access to services, and increased focus on mental health well-being before, during and after pregnancy.
One-Stop Women’s Health Hubs: There will be more women’s health care hubs, offering a range of services under one roof – from contraception to cervical screenings. Hopefully this will mean less bouncing between appointments and specialists.
Equality: This plan will tackle inequalities women face in accessing health care, and bridge the gap between ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and locations, ensuring every woman receives the right care.
Commitment to Research: There will be increased research efforts into women’s health, particularly in under-studied areas like endometriosis and menopause.
Support for Domestic and Sexual Abuse Victims: As of January 31st domestic abuse survivors facing financial barriers will be able to access up to £500 from over 470 support services in the UK to help them flee.
Menstrual Health: At long last the government is recognising that menstrual issues like heavy bleeding, painful periods, and endometriosis can have a significant impact on women’s lives. There will be more education, easier access to specialist women’s health care, and research on better treatments.
There will also be increased awareness around the impact these issues can have on a woman’s working life. Projects like Women’s Workplace Wellness have been put in place to help employers to support their workforce with menopause, maternity rights, painful periods and more.
How did the government deliver on Women’s health in 2023?
HRT Access: Over 484,000 women purchased HRT prepayment certificates, saving millions on prescriptions.
Cervical Cancer Target: The NHS aimed to end cervical cancer by 2040 through boosted HPV vaccination and screening.
Easier Contraception: Nearly 3,000 pharmacies joined the NHS Contraception Service, making access to pills easier.
Information Availability: There were over 100,000 visits to the new NHS women’s health website and 1.26 million to the HRT section.
IVF Transparency: A new NHS tool was created with the aim to demystify IVF treatment options, so that patients can make informed choices.
With many initiatives are in their early stages, it’s too early to judge their long-term impact. We know that increased awareness, open-discussion and education around women’s health can put an end to taboos that stop women accessing medical care or support at work. We hope 2024 will bring us a step closer to closing the gender health gap once and for all and provide women with a healthcare system they can trust.