The women’s health hub model represents a significant opportunity to improve access, experiences and outcomes in women’s healthcare. Published today, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of General Practitioners, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, and the British Menopause Society have produced a joint position statement providing a consensus view on how this opportunity can be harnessed by Integrated Care Systems, and supported nationally by Government and the NHS.

Hub models should ensure women are seen ‘in the right setting, by the right professional, at the right time’ by better integration of women’s health services across primary, secondary and sexual and reproductive health. The health hub workforce should be built by identifying the skills and competencies required to provide high-quality services, rather than base roles on historic ways of working. The collective professional bodies offer to work with DHSC to develop a competency framework for clinical leadership and workforce in hubs.

This position statement sets out a series of key aims for the hub model to improve women’s experience and access to care – through improving access to prevention and early intervention services, improved education and information provision, and bringing together healthcare professionals with the right skills, experience and knowledge to provide high-quality care.

While funding has been announced to set up the hub model, the statement raises concerns around existing workforce pressures, and the impact this will have on recruitment. There needs to be investment in the training and development of the workforce to support the delivery of hubs. Workforce planning should ensure that healthcare professionals working in hubs have the skills and roles needed to deliver high-quality care across women’s health.

Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Women’s Health Hubs present a real opportunity to improve women’s health outcomes, and reduce inequalities, across the country. We are committed to working collaboratively with DHSC and colleagues working across primary and SRH services to support their successful expansion within communities, to help women live healthier lives and to more easily access high quality, holistic care when they need it”.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “GPs are highly trained to have sensitive, confidential and personalised conversations with women about their health needs and concerns. We want women to benefit from the holistic care that we are trained to deliver, but as things stand, there simply are not enough GPs to meet the level of need in our society.

“The RCGP welcomes the concept of Women’s Health Hub model and working closely with our secondary care and community colleagues to provide integrated services for women. For there to be sustainable improvements in the treatment of women’s health, and harness the benefits of a flexible hub model, we need to see a focus on equipping primary care with funding, staffing capacity to allow us to use our skills and knowledge to consistently deliver high-quality care.”

Dr Janet Barter, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said: “This is an opportunity to address historic fragmented commissioning of women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare. Our joint statement reiterates our shared position that commissioning for all women’s health services including contraception should sit under the remit of the NHS, or at a minimum there should be mandated co-commissioning of SRH services as called for in the FSRH Hatfield Vision.”

Dr Paula Briggs, consultant in sexual and reproductive health and chair of the British Menopause Society said: “While many women access menopause care within primary care, integrating secondary care services could help improve the provision of specialist menopause advice.  This is a core message in the BMS Vision for menopause care in the UK, which sets out the fundamental principles that should underpin a menopause service provision.  Within the Hub model, ICBs can support the ongoing training and education of healthcare professionals, and ensure best practice within menopause care is delivered across the system.”

Read the full policy statement: Achieving success with the Women’s Health Hub model: Joint position of the RCOG, the RCGP, the FSRH and the BMS

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Notes to editors