Dame Lesley Regan has been appointed as the Government’s first women’s health ambassador for England, saying it was a ‘great honour’ and an ‘important opportunity to get it right for women and girls’ by addressing inequalities.
Following a 42-year career in women’s health, she will support the implementation of the upcoming women’s health strategy, which will aim to tackle the gender health gap and ensure services meet the needs of women throughout their lives.
She will continue in her role as professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London St Mary’s Hospital Campus and remain in active clinical practice.
Health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid, said that closing the gender health gap was ‘critical’ for a fair health and care system.
Minister for women’s health, Maria Caulfield, added that Dame Lesley’s appointment was ‘another step in the right direction to giving women’s health the platform and profile it needs’.
‘We are embarking on an important journey to eradicate the gender health gap. There is no quick fix. But I look forward to working together with Dame Lesley as we take the next steps to implement our women’s health strategy and beyond,’ she said.
A deputy ambassador will also be appointed, responsible for increasing awareness of the women’s health strategy and better understanding the barriers and concerns of under-served groups of women and girls, for example through community outreach.
Building on the vision for the Women’s Health Strategy in England publication, the strategy will seek to ensure that all women:
- feel comfortable talking about their health
- can access services that meet their needs throughout their lives
- have access to high-quality information and education
- feel supported and can reach their full potential at work.
It will also seek to embed routine collection of demographic data of participants in research trials.
Recent issues affecting women’s health have included HRT shortages. The Government announced that pharmacists could substitute certain products for alternatives if the original prescription was out of stock as part of a host of new rules aimed at tackling the shortages.
The shortages followed a dramatic rise in demand in recent years, which led to the Government limiting patients to three months’ supply and appointing an ‘HRT tsar’ to tackle supply problems that have been happening since 2018.
From April 2023, women will be able to access HRT on a month-by-month basis via a prepayment certificate – a one-off charge equivalent to two single prescription charges, currently £18.70, for all their HRT prescriptions for a year.
Meanwhile, charity Asthma + Lung recently reported that women with asthma experience worse outcomes than men and are twice as likely to die from asthma attacks.