Last reviewed 4 May 2021

The call for evidence on shaping the future of women’s healthcare has been be extended by two weeks, with a new closing date of 13 June 2021.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it is calling on women from under-represented groups to respond, especially women from Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, those living in the Midlands and East of England and women over 50 years of age.

A total of 50,000 women, organisations, clinicians and carers have already responded so far but early analysis shows women from the groups mentioned are under-represented in sharing their experiences and their representation is necessary to ensure the strategy works for all women.

The strategy will look at the different ways in which women experience health issues that affect both women and men, as well as health issues specific to women. Women with conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and osteoarthritis are also being urged to share how their condition has affected them.

The Government said there is evidence that, although female life expectancy is higher than men in the UK, women on average spend less of their life in good health compared with men, and less is known about conditions that only affect women, including common gynaecological conditions which can have severe impacts on health and wellbeing but for which there is currently little treatment.

For example, menstrual conditions such as endometriosis, which affects 10% of women yet takes on average eight years to diagnose, have often been labelled as “women’s issues”, swept under the carpet, or considered embarrassing and not talked about. And the effect of pregnancy-related issues and the menopause on women’s lives is often overlooked.

Compared to men, women have a higher prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders, twice the risk of dementia, and rates of hospital admissions for self-harm for young girls are still rising.

There are also specific conditions that are more prevalent in women from BAME backgrounds and if their experiences are not captured by the consultation there is a risk that their experiences will not be reflected in future policy decisions or strategies.

The call for evidence has six core themes:

  • placing women’s voices at the centre of their health and care

  • improving the quality and accessibility of information and education on women’s health

  • ensuring the health and care system understands and is responsive to women’s health and care needs across the life course

  • maximising women’s health in the workplace

  • ensuring research, evidence and data support improvements in women’s health

  • understanding and responding to the impacts of Covid-19 on women’s health.

The Five Foundation CEO and Ginsburg Women’s Health Board Co-chair Nimco Ali OBE said the DHSC is committed to “shaking up the system and delivering policy that protects and supports women and girls across the country” but she added that they cannot do this effectively without true data.

She added: “It’s amazing to see so many contributing thus far, and we now need women from all regions, ethnicities and age groups to do the same. We must ensure that the future of women’s health is designed for the benefit of all, and not some.”

More information about the consultation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-call-for-evidence-to-improve-health-and-wellbeing-of-women-in-england.