Today on International Women’s Day let us consider the clear and stark inequalities in healthcare which are related to socio-economic status, ethnicity and geographic region. Across different stages of women’s lives there are different social and economic factors which drive health inequalities.
Let us consider just some concerns happening today:
- There were almost £5bn of clinical negligence claims against the NHS in 2018-19, of which 60 per cent involved maternity services. Hospitals at the centre of maternity scandals have been asked to repay millions after falsely claiming their maternity units were safe yet dozens of women and many more babies died.
- Women who have a cardiac arrest outside the hospital setting are less likely to receive resuscitation from bystanders and more likely to die. Stark inequalities in awareness, diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks are leading to women needlessly dying every day in the UK.
- More than one in twenty girls aged 17 to 19 may have a body dysmorphic disorder. In England, women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men. Women undergo 92% of all cosmetic procedures. The three most popular procedures for women were breast augmentation, breast reduction and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). The biggest increases for women were for liposuction which rose 12%, and facelifts which rose 9%.
- Women suffering with endometriosis face an unacceptable delay of 7.5 years on average for a diagnosis. Women are much more likely to receive prescriptions for sedatives than pain medication for their ailments.
- Some of the highest-profile medical controversies in recent years involve products marketed to women, including contraceptive coils, vaginal mesh, and breast implants. They cause life changing injury, chronic pain, cancer and sexual dysfunction which is rarely understood or considered important.
The Department for Health has launched a consultation on a new Women’s Health Strategy. The Government want to hear first-hand experiences of accessing healthcare, to identify and make recommendations on what steps need to be taken to ensure equal access to treatment.
There is hope that in the next 12 months there will be real change in healthcare provision for women. Dr Victoria Handley and our Solicitors for Women team supports International Women’s Day to help forge a gender equal world, celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against healthcare basis and take action. Only through action will we effect change.