Mandatory women's health training introduced for all new doctors

·2-min read

According to statistics released last year, there are 33,818,578 women currently living in the UK. Despite this, mandatory training on women's health for doctors has only just been introduced – begging the question: what have doctors been learning up til now?

ICYMI, today the government shared details of its women's health strategy which aims to close the gender health gap. As well as introducing pregnancy loss certificates that will offer parents "recognition" and increasing funding for breast cancer testing, the government has announced that all new doctors will now need to pass mandatory training on women's health.

The move comes after the government reviewed responses to women's health from 100,000 people including members of the public, academics, charities and campaigners.

"Tackling the gender health gap will not be easy – there are deep-seated, systematic issues we must address to ensure women receive the same standards of care as men, universally and by default," said minister for women's health, Maria Caulfield.

Photo credit: Kobus Louw - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kobus Louw - Getty Images

Explaining the findings of the investigation, the government said that those who responded felt that there's a lack of understanding amongst medical professionals when it comes to health conditions that only affect women. This means that, although women in England live (on average) four years longer than their male counterparts, they spend more of their life in poor health which impacts them in areas such as working and socialising.

"We hear stories of women suffering with a vast range of problems, from endometriosis to menopause, and often feeling as though they're dismissed or not taken seriously by some health professionals," said Miriam Levin, health and care programme director at Engage Britain, a charity tackling the country's "biggest challenges".

"The only way this strategy can succeed is for the government to take a fresh approach – by hearing what female patients have to say, then putting their experiences at the very heart of delivering it."

In addition to mandatory teaching and assessment on women's health for all doctors enrolled from 2024, the government also laid out plans to:

  • Provide £10 million funding for breast cancer screening in areas with low testing rates

  • Update guidance on the treatment of endometriosis

  • Introduce a pregnancy loss certificate in England

  • Update IVF and fertility treatment rules

  • Encourage the expansion of dedicated women's health hubs (meaning services such as maternity, gynaecology and sexual health can be accessed in one place)

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