In highly welcome news, England's first 'Women's Health Ambassador' has been appointed by the government. Dame Lesley Regan, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a practicing doctor, has been tasked with working to close the 'gender health gap' – the phenomenon of women having poorer healthcare and outcomes compared to men.
What would help with closing the gender health gap?
So what might that look like, in practice? Dame Lesley has told BBC News she would be keen to see 'one stop shop' women's health hubs, at which women and girls could access an array of services, such as smear tests and contraception, in a single swoop, rather than having to make multiple appointments over multiple days in various locations, from your GP's surgery to sexual health clinics.
🆕 Meet Professor Dame Lesley Regan, the first ever #WomensHealth Ambassador for England.
@lregan7 will work to improve the health & care provided to women and help implement the upcoming Women’s Health Strategy.
▶️ https://t.co/rFjsIy3Wau pic.twitter.com/inJ8n0y8Gg
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) June 17, 2022
'At the moment, we waste a lot of resource in telling girls and women that they cannot have things,' she told the outlet. 'So you might go off to your doctor or gynaecologist or heart specialist and get told, "well, you cannot have a smear here, even if it is due, or you need to go somewhere else for this, that and the other." We should make it very, very easy for people to access this out in the community – why do you need to go to a secondary or tertiary facility for things that are very easy to provide?'
'A one-stop shop is what I want for myself and what I want for my daughters and I'm sure it is what every other girl and woman wants and what every man and boy wants for the women in their lives, to be looked after that way.'
What is the government's Women’s Health Strategy?
A key part of Dame Lesley's role is to support the roll-out of the government's upcoming Women’s Health Strategy. The strategy aims to deal with the gender health gap, ensuring that women can access the services they need throughout their lives, from help with issues such as endometriosis through to assistance during perimenopause and menopause.
Such interventions are desperately needed. At present, data shows that 1 in 4 women consider leaving their job due to the symptoms that come with the perimenopause, a reality which is compounded by the lack of support they receive.
Of her appointment, Dame Lesley said: 'Having spent my career working with and caring for women, it is a great honour to be appointed as Women’s Health Ambassador for the first Government-led Women’s Health Strategy in England. This is an important opportunity to get it right for women and girls, and make a real difference to 51% of our population by addressing the inequalities that exist across society.
'I look forward to working with women, girls, health services, charities, policy makers, the Government and other key partners to implement this strategy.'
And what is the aim of the strategy?
The aim of the strategy is to realise the below:
that all women feel comfortable talking about their health and no longer face taboos when they do talk about their health
that women can access services that meet their needs across the life course
that all women will have access to high-quality information and education from childhood through to adulthood
that all women feel supported in the workplace and can reach their full potential at work
to embed routine collection of demographic data of participants in research trials to make sure that our research reflects the society we serve
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