• Major new research on women’s health issues to increase understanding of female specific health conditions and tackle the data gap to ensure diagnosis and treatment work for women.
  • Ensuring all doctors are trained to provide the best care to women by introducing mandatory specific teaching and assessment on women’s health for all incoming graduating medical students and incoming doctors.
  • £10 million for breast screening programme to provide 25 new mobile breast screening units for areas with the greatest challenges of screening uptake.

Women and girls across England will benefit from improved healthcare following the publication of the first ever government-led Women’s Health Strategy for England today (Wednesday 20 July).

Following a call for evidence which generated almost 100,000 responses from individuals across England, and building on Our Vision for Women’s Health, the strategy sets bold ambitions to tackle deep rooted, systemic issues within the health and care system to improve the health and wellbeing of women and, reset how the health and care system listens to women.

The strategy includes key commitments around new research and data gathering, the expansion of women’s health-focused education and training for incoming doctors improvements to fertility services, ensuring women have access to high quality health information and updating guidance for female specific health conditions like endometriosis to ensure the latest evidence and advice is being used in treatment.

Women live on average for longer than men but spend more of their life in poor health, often limiting their ability to work and participate in day to day activities. Closing the gender health gap and supporting women to live well will not only benefit the health and wellbeing of women, but the health of the economy.

Responses to the call for evidence highlighted a need for greater focus on women’s specific health conditions including fertility and pregnancy loss, and gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis which affects 1 in 10 women. To support progress already underway in these areas the strategy aims to:

  • A new investment of £10 million funding for breast screening programme will provide 25 new mobile breast screening units to be targeted at areas with the greatest challenges of uptake and coverage. This will provide extra capacity for services to recover from the impact of the pandemic, boost uptake of screening in areas where attendance is low, tackle health disparities and contribute towards higher early diagnosis rates in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.
  • Remove additional barriers to IVF for female same-sex couples. There will no longer be a requirement for them to pay for artificial insemination to prove their fertility status, and NHS treatment for female same-sex couples will start with 6 cycles of artificial insemination, prior to accessing IVF services if necessary.
  • Improve transparency on provision and availability of IVF so prospective parents can see how their local area performs to tackle the “postcode lottery” in access to IVF treatment.
  • Recognise parents who have lost a child before 24 weeks through the introduction of a pregnancy loss certificate in England.
  • Ensure specialist endometriosis services have the most up to date evidence and advice by updating the service specification for severe endometriosis, which defines the standards of care patients can expect, to ensure. This sits alongside the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) review of its guideline on endometriosis.

This will support our ambition that national healthcare services consider women’s needs specifically and by default, and that women can access services that meet their reproductive health needs throughout their lives.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: 

“Our health and care system only works if it works for everyone.