‘Sexist’ NHS targeted by overhaul of doctor training

A few months ago, You magazine reported on the shocking gender inequality in women’s health services, with a survey showing 80 per cent of women in the UK saying they don’t feel listened to by healthcare professionals.

Anecdotally, we almost all know a woman whose endometriosis went misdiagnosed for years, whose severe pain was brushed off by a GP as ‘normal’ or who struggled for months to comes to terms with their medical treatment during childbirth.

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Now, the government has revealed a ten-year strategy aimed to end such failures, which include women’s pain routinely being ignored and a lack of knowledge around issues such as menstrual health and the menopause.

Under the new plans, medical students will have to take exams on the menopause and common gynaecological disorders to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Other key elements include improving access to IVF by ending the postcode lottery for fertility treatment, and eliminating cervical cancer via the HPV vaccine. New women’s health hubs will also be established to offer one-stop-shop clinics for women seeking help.

Steve Barclay, the health secretary, and Maria Caulfield, a health minister, said the strategy aims to ‘right the wrongs’ of the current system, and ‘end the ‘stigmas which reinforce beliefs that female health problems or painful symptoms are something to be endured’. Ultimately, it ‘sets out how we will improve the way in which the health and care system listens to women’s voices, and boost health outcomes for women and girls.

READ MORE: ‘The menopause nearly destroyed me’

The report said that, while women make up 51 per cent of the population, ‘historically the health and care system has been designed by men, for men’.

Dr Clare Spencer, a GP and registered menopause specialist, said: ‘Many patients tell me that they feel relief that their concerns and health issues are being taken seriously by the government. I have heard many times that women think if the menopause was effecting men they feel something more would have been done by now. Women are quite desperate to get help and are often cross that they feel they have to pay for a private appointment to get the time and advice they need.’