Gosport MP urges women to share health issues for new strategy

WOMEN across the Solent area are being urged to share their experiences with health issues that could shape part of a new government strategy.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 11:00 am

More than 65,000 women have already completed a survey launched by Caroline Dinenage the MP for Gosport, with further responses sought.

Ms Dinenage explained more. She said ‘I’m sure we can all agree the health and care system needs to meet everyone’s needs, but at the moment, it doesn’t work for everyone. Our brilliant NHS and social care workforce here in Hampshire work incredibly hard to keep us all well, but there are clear differences between the health outcomes of men and women.

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MP Caroline Dinenage with members of Endometriosis South Coast

‘For example, 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. This isn’t good enough and is something we are determined to address through the first, government-led Women’s Health Strategy.

‘To better understand women’s experiences of the health and care system, we have launched a call for evidence which is open until June 13. As the MP for Gosport, and both a former Health Minister, and former Minister for Women and Equalities, I have heard many powerful stories from women who have been saved by the health services, but also from those who have been left wanting. It is so important now, that all those I have heard from - and their friends, family and colleagues - share their experiences - both positive and negative – to help form the basis of our Women’s Health Strategy.

‘While there are many untold stories, there is a great deal of evidence that highlights the inequalities facing women in health. Less is known about conditions that only affect women, including common gynaecological conditions which can have severe impacts on wellbeing, but for which there is currently little treatment. On average, 40 per cent of women need 10 or more GP appointments before being referred to a specialist.

‘This week I met ladies from the south coast endometriosis support group to understand the physical and emotional impact of a little understood, under-diagnosed but all too common condition. This is further evidence that the impact of female-specific health conditions such as endometriosis, heavy menstrual bleeding, pregnancy-related issues and the menopause on women’s lives is so often overlooked. This includes the effect they can have on women’s workforce participation, productivity, and outcomes.

‘High-quality research and evidence is essential to delivering improvements in women’s health, yet studies suggest gender biases in clinical trials and research are contributing to worse health outcomes for women. Although women make up 51 per cent of the population, there is less evidence and data on how conditions affect women differently. A University of Leeds study showed women with a total blockage of a coronary artery were 59% more likely to be misdiagnosed than men, and found that UK women had more than double the rate of death in the 30 days following heart attack compared with men.

‘Women in our area, like those across the country, need to be heard to ensure this Women’s Strategy works for all. I urge every local woman, carer, clinician of all ages and backgrounds and organisations to respond to the call for evidence to capture the varying health issues women experience over their lives and the significant differences between women in terms of access to services, experience of services and health outcomes.

‘We don’t solely want the strategy to cover ‘women’s issues’ - we want to hear about all conditions. This could be mental health issues, addiction or neurological conditions, like dementia, or autism, as well as issues relating specifically to women such as gynaecological conditions, menopause and pregnancy and post-natal support.

‘And I know how busy we all are - the call for evidence is quick to fill in and easily accessible from people’s mobiles - it only takes 15 minutes and could have life changing consequences.

‘I hope you feel as enthusiastic as I do about this - and I urge you to tell your friends and family that we need to hear from them – please visit the call for evidence today: consultations.dhsc.gov.uk/talkwomenshealth.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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