Health and Social Care

My first update as Women’s Health Champion

April 25, 2023 by No Comments | Category Women's Health Champion

Professor Anna Glasier

Professor Anna Glasier

As most of you will be aware, I took up my post as Women’s Health Champion at the end of January. I know that many of you were looking forward to someone taking up the post and so I thought you might like to know what I have been doing since I started, and how I envisage my role developing in the months to come.

The overall aim of the Women’s Health Plan is to improve health outcomes and health services for all women and girls in Scotland. Underpinning the work of the Plan is the recognition that women face particular health inequalities and disadvantages simply because they are women. You may also know that the Plan lists over 60 actions, some of them for delivery over the long term.

Given the breadth and depth of the Plan I have to prioritise the areas in which I think I can make the most significant contribution. I have discovered very rapidly that there is a huge amount of enthusiasm and support for the Women’s Health Plan across Scotland and I need to make sure that that momentum continues. I believe that my main role over the coming months will be to raise the profile of women’s health among the public and among the professions who contribute to service delivery in health, social care and beyond. We need to ensure that we move towards a cultural change where thinking about women’s health, indeed almost without thinking, becomes normal for everyone.

Since starting in post I have been meeting lots of people in various sectors of women’s health. At the outset I said that I would focus particularly on three areas, menstrual health, menopause and heart health – but not to the exclusion of other areas. So I have met many experts including midwives, pharmacists, charities supporting women and, of course, women themselves. The aim of these meetings is to inform myself of pressing issues, of how things are currently being done – how things could be done – and of some of the barriers to successful service delivery. During some of these meetings I have been able to identify areas of work where two or more organisations presently working separately could come together to ensure a much greater chance of success in their endeavours – and have encouraged that to happen.

I was very grateful to be able to attend February’s abortion summit, so soon after my appointment, and to hear about the complex issues that are being considered in order to ensure women’s rights to access abortion services without the risk of feeling harassed or intimidated by protests or vigils.

I would particularly like to note the opportunity I had to attend the Cross Party Group on Women’s Health where I was privileged to hear directly from women about their personal experiences of endometriosis.

The former Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport’s and Women’s Health Champion attendance of the 2nd Scottish Postpartum Contraception Conference in March 2023.

The former Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport’s and Women’s Health Champion at the 2nd Scottish Postpartum Contraception Conference in March 2023.

I was also delighted speak at the recent Post-Partum Contraception Network event, where it was clear that an incredible amount of work is taking place in this important part of women’s health. But, as ever, there remains more to do.

A great deal of work had already been done before I was appointed, particularly with respect to providing the public and the professions with much more high quality information on women’s health through NHS Inform and through various educational initiatives with health care providers.

Much of this work is described in the Progress Report.

For example a Menopause Specialist Network has been established which meets regularly to share ideas and examples of good practice. We are planning a similar National Menstrual Health Clinical Forum (which will include discussions on heavy menstrual bleeding, polycystic ovarian syndrome, dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis etc) and will have an exchange of ideas in early May with a small expert group to identify topics on which to focus and where we could make progress.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that I have met over the past couple of months for their enthusiasm and their patience in responding to my questions. I look forward to meeting many more of you in the months to come. I should also like to thank the members of the Women’s Health Plan Team in St Andrew’s House who have helped my find my way into the early stages of the role. I look forward to sharing regular updates with you as my work develops and as I clarify the ‘big ticket’ pieces that I will drive forward in my time as Scotland’s Women’s Health Champion.


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