Glimmer of hope for women's health.
I'm heartened to find that Prof Lesley Regan, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is co-chairing a women’s health task force which aims to help the 51% of the population, who are women, get joined-up care and attention to their needs throughout their whole lives; adolescence, pregnancy and childbearing, menopause and older age.
Prof Regan is concerned with women getting more joined-up care during pregnancy and that the care continues beyond having children: “I used the analogy that we’ve got past the Margaret Atwood days and The Handmaid’s Tale where women are all about incubating babies and then after they’ve delivered them that’s the end of them,” Prof Regan said in an article in the Guardian Newspaper.
In my work as a Physical Therapist women tell me every day how they feel let down and 'un-heard' by their GP's especially when they experience symptoms that may be related to the menopause. I hear too many stories of women being put straight on anti-depressants when a hormonal profile test and possible hormonal replacement therapy or at least an acknowledgement and advice that her symptoms may be due to hormonal changes, would be much more appropriate.
I am pleased to find that Prof Regan is concerned by this apparent lack of continued care, "My third point was to develop the 51 club – 51% of the population and 51 is the average age of menopause in the western hemisphere. Most women become menopausal and are not offered anything. One or two get a bit of HRT [hormone replacement therapy] if they are lucky,” she said."
She contributes the lack of women's access to appropriate health services to continuing cuts in the NHS, and although I agree with her, I also feel that this lack of services is due to lack of interest and value placed on the health, and wellbeing of women beyond childbearing age. This may seem cynical but I listen to women's stories every day which convince me that this is at least partly true.
Prof Regan says: “There’s a realisation among our politicians and policy makers in the department of health that lots of people have fallen through the cracks. My argument has always been that women have been disproportionately disadvantaged by the cuts in public health because so many of the services that women need to access for general body maintenance, if you like, as opposed to poor health, fell under that public health umbrella and they’ve been viciously cut,” she said.
Let's hope that this task force marks a new beginning for the management and value placed on women's health; that women's lives of all ages are equally valuable. Only time will tell, but at least there is a glimmer of hope that things may change.