Health and Social Care
Women’s Health Champion Autumn update
I have now been Women’s Health Champion for a little over eight months, and since my blog post in July 2023 there has been lots of activity to update you on.
Visit to London
In September, the team and I were delighted to visit London to meet with our counterparts in England. The main purpose of the trip was to spend time with Dame Lesley Regan, the Women’s Health Ambassador for England, and the Women’s Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health Teams in the Department of Health and Social Care of the UK Government. It was great to be able to meet in person and to share the progress of our respective policies. We are grateful to Dame Lesley and the team for hosting this meeting, and hope we can meet in Scotland before too long!
We also had a productive meeting with our colleagues from NHS England to hear about the National Menopause Improvement Programme and to share and exchange progress. We also met with Wellbeing of Women, a charity which is jointly funding two research projects with the Chief Scientist’s Office of the Scottish Government. Wellbeing is also active in education and advocacy on Women’s Health and we hope to share various initiatives.
NHS Women’s Health Leads
The NHS Women’s Health Leads Network continue to meet on a quarterly basis. The meetings are a useful forum for exchanging ideas and identifying common challenges. At the October meeting we heard presentations from the Scottish Government’s Heart Health policy team and from representatives from two important and influential charities keen to help with rolling out the Plan (The British Heart Foundation and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland). We were also pleased to hear from the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland about the excellent work they are doing to bring women’s voices into the delivery of the Plan, and to improve women’s access to information and awareness of their health.
Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
As such, I was delighted to attend a meeting of the Women’s Health Plan Lived Experience Stakeholder Group, Chaired by Irene Oldfather, in mid-September. It’s so important to hear directly from women themselves about their health and experiences of healthcare and I was very grateful to be part of these interesting discussions, and look forward to attending future meetings.
The 18th October is World Menopause Day, an opportunity for us all to raise awareness of this important topic. On World Menopause Day I was delighted to be part of an ALLIANCE panel session with Dr Heather Currie, (Gynaecologist NHS Dumfries and Galloway & Founder of Menopause Matters), and Rachel Weiss (founder of the Menopause Café charity) raising awareness and providing information on this important life stage. The session will be available online shortly, on the ALLIANCE website.
The National Menopause Specialists’ Network is an extremely useful and lively forum for sharing ideas, progress and challenges. The next meeting on 24th October will focus on cardiovascular disease in relation to the menopause with an opportunity to discuss menopause services becoming more proactive about the prevention of cardiovascular disease. There will be presentations about Connect-me BP, an IT platform for monitoring blood pressure, and the new national specialist service for women with spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).
In September we were pleased to hold the first meeting of the new National Menstrual Health Specialist Network, chaired by Dr Jackie Maybin. Participants were enthusiastic, and we look forward to its progression in the coming months. In addition, Professor Colin Duncan of the University of Edinburgh, and I, attended an event at the Scottish Parliament to discuss polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The event was extremely well attended by a number of MSPs as well as women with PCOS, and it was really positive to see an event raising awareness of this condition. More information on PCOS can be found on the NHS Inform Women’s Health Platform.
Sexual Health and Contraception
On the 5th September, I attended the meeting of the Lead Clinicians in Sexual and Reproductive Health Group with whom we shared an update of our actions in this area of the Plan.
We have also held a number of discussions about the contraceptive needs and preferences of younger women recognising that many are no longer happy with hormonal contraception. We are keen to engage with young women to understand more about their concerns, and I look forward to the progression of this work in the coming months.
We are continuing to tease out issues with long-acting contraception provision throughout Scotland, through the LARC Short Life Working Group and I’m grateful for everyone who has helped us with this important work to date.
Meeting other organisations
I joined a meeting of the Scottish subcommittee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at which we discussed menopause training for O&G specialists, pain relief for hysteroscopy and home monitoring of women with pregnancy induced hypertension. It was a useful meeting, and I shall continue to attend on a regular basis.
Since my last blog I have met with lots of organisations, among them The National Childbirth Trust, representatives from the Message project which aims to encourage inclusion of more women in research and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health to discuss their activities in Scotland.
We are looking forward to the first of the Women’s Health Masterclasses, hosted by NES, on 25th October.
If you would like to suggest any subsequent topics for the Masterclass series, please contact the Women’s Health Plan team on email@example.com