UK Healthcare System Confirmed to be Sexist

Last year, women and girls in England were asked to share their experiences of the healthcare system as part of a consultation launched by The Department for Health and Social Care (DHCS).

Nearly 100,000 people responded to the survey to share personal views, including experiences as a woman, reflections as a self-identified health or care professional, and as a family member to a woman.

The results reveal the stark realities of the gender health gap in the UK, and confirm the healthcare system to be sexist:


  • Over 4 in 5 respondents felt not listened to by healthcare professionals.


  • The majority were not able to conveniently access healthcare services they needed in terms of location (60%) or timing (76%).


  • COVID-19 has negatively impacted the health and access to healthcare services for the majority of respondents.


  • Over 2 out of 3 (65%) women are not comfortable talking about their health issues in the workplace.


  • 4 in 5 respondents with a health condition or disability reported not feeling support by services available for individuals with their condition and/or disability.


Historically, women have been underrepresented, and sometimes excluded from clinical trials and studies, meaning healthcare professionals are often not able to identify how symptoms may manifest specifically for women. This means the understanding of health services and conditions can be biased towards men, having a knock-on effect to the access and treatment for women.


More can and needs to be done to ensure women’s voices are heard, and tackle the long-entrenched health inequalities they face. Recommendations suggested by respondents include ensuring women are represented in clinical trials and studies, initiating new research into health issues specific to women, and improving the treatment of women by professionals in the healthcare system.


The Government has announced they are committed to tackle the gender health gap and the findings from the consultation will inform the first Government-led Women’s Health Strategy, “Vision for Women’s Health” expected to be launched in Spring 2022.


Continue reading here for our full review of the consultation findings and recommendations of further resources.