Scottish Government sets out plan to become 'world leader' in women's health

The Scottish Government has set out a plan to become a “world leader” in women’s health.

The plan, which was one of the SNP’s goals to deliver in the first 100 days of the new government, is the first of its kind in the UK.

It sets out 66 actions to improve women’s health in Scotland, including setting up a Women’s Health Research Fund to close gaps in scientific and medical knowledge.

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Research will be commissioned into better treatment and management of key women’s health issues, such as endometriosis, and a menopause and menstrual health policy will also be developed.

Picture: Shutterstock

There will be a women’s health lead in every NHS board, and a women’s health community pharmacy service.

The Scottish Government also aims to improve information and awareness around heart disease risks for women.

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Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd said: “Women’s health is not just a women's issue. When women and girls are supported to lead healthy lives and fulfil their potential, the whole of society benefits.

“Together, we are working to address inequalities in all aspects of health that women are facing. The Women’s Health Plan signals our ambition and determination to see change for women in Scotland, for their health and for their role in society. We want Scotland to be a world leader when it comes to women’s health.”

Head of British Heart Foundation Scotland James Jopling said the plan is a “welcome step” towards reducing inequalities for women with heart disease.

“We need to improve understanding of the risks for women and increase their awareness of the symptoms of a heart attack,” he said.

“We must also promote equality of treatment for women with heart disease within the healthcare system, at every point in their journey.”

Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr Pat O’Brien said: "We are pleased to see the Women’s Health Plan adopts an approach to prioritise the health and wellbeing of women throughout every stage of their lives, and ensure they can access care when they need it – something we called for in our Better for Women report.”

Dr Sigi Joseph, a representative for the Royal College of GPs on the Women’s Health Group, said GPs have an important role to play in improving the experience of women in Scotland’s health service.

“We do not underestimate the scale of the action that is required to ensure that all women enjoy the best possible health throughout their lives, but as GPs we stand ready to play our part in achieving this necessary aim,” she said.

Irene Oldfather, Director of Strategy and Engagement at the Health and Social Care Alliance, which represents over 3,000 health and social care organisations, also welcomed the plan.

"From our previous engagement work at the ALLIANCE, we heard that women want to see a system which provides them flexibility around their lives, both when accessing appointments and for treatment and support options,” she said.

"They want to be taken seriously no matter their concern, without feeling judged for their skin colour, culture or choices.”

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