Health and Social Care Secretary announces women's health priorities for 2024

Health and Social Care Secretary announces women’s health priorities for 2024

Speaking at the Women’s Health Summit in London, health and social care secretary Victoria Atkins named top priorities for women’s health in 2024, including menstrual problems, menopause, maternity care, and birth trauma support.

Priorities are borne from more than 100,000 responses to a government call for evidence, from health professionals, women’s health champions, members of the public and other stakeholders.

On improving care for menstrual and gynaecological issues, plans include producing new guidance for health professionals; improving information and support for women suffering from heavy periods and endometriosis; and enabling easier access to contraception. The Office for National Statistics will also be looking into the impact of these issues on women’s participation and progress at work, focusing on achieving reductions in diagnosis times by improving understanding.

Maternity care will be improved both during and after pregnancy, with a continued focus on the Three Year Delivery Plan, and a “greater focus” on preconception and postnatal care, raising awareness of issues like morning sickness, and “actioning the recommendations set out in the Pregnancy Loss Review”. The “first ever” NIHR “Challenge”, backed by £50 million of investment, will also task researchers, policymakers and women with “finding new ways to tackle maternity disparities”.

Other proposals include improving support for vulnerable women including victims of sexual abuse and violence, and pursuing further research to improve understandings of women’s health issues.

Alongside the priorities, the reappointment of Professor Dame Lesley Regan as women’s health ambassador for England for a further two years, to December 2025, was announced.

Professor Regan said: “Our Women’s Health Strategy is ambitious. It was created to ensure our healthcare system places women’s health on an equal footing to men. I want women everywhere to feel confident that when seek advice from their healthcare professional, whether it’s for heavy or painful periods or issues following birth, they know they are going to receive worldclass treatment. This is the ultimate goal of the Strategy, and I am delighted that we have made such positive progress in the first year and generated so much enthusiastic help to succeed. This coming year offers us the opportunity of taking further steps forward in delivering better healthcare outcomes for every woman in our society.”

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On people, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has announced the appointment of its new chief executive, with Peter Reading taking on the role.

On children and young people’s health, we took a deep dive to see what ICSs across the country are doing to tackle children’s and young people’s health issues.