Women's Health Plan Implementation Programme Board minutes: January 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Board on 25 January 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Marion Bain, Chair and Interim Deputy Chief Medical Officer
  • Corinne Love, Senior Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Anne Lillico, Women’s Health Plan Team, Scottish Government
  • Catherine Calderwood, Centre for Sustainable Delivery
  • Denise McLister, Women’s Health Plan Team, Scottish Government
  • Emma Kennedy, Public Health Scotland
  • Felicity Sung, Women’s Health Plan Team, Scottish Government
  • Frances Ewan, UNITE the Union Staff Side
  • Greig Chalmers, Chief Medical Officer Policy Division,  Scottish Government
  • Irene Oldfather, Health and Social Care Alliance
  • Jim Miller, NHS 24, and NHS Board Chief Executive
  • Kirsty Brightwell, Scottish Association of Medical Directors
  • Kirsty Dundas, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland
  • Lynne McNiven, Scottish Directors of Public Health
  • Maria Pollard, NHS Education for Scotland
  • Mel McIlvar, Women’s Health Plan Programme Manager
  • Patricia Moultrie, British Medical Association
  • Shoba Galloway, Women’s Health Plan Team, Scottish Government
  • Susan Gallacher, Deputy Director for Primary Care Strategy and Capability, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed everyone to the first meeting of Women’s Health Plan Implementation Board (the board) meeting and then each member in attendance introduced themselves. Apologies were noted as above.

Chair’s introduction

The Chair provided background to her appointment by Chief Medical Officer to be the Chair of this board having previously chaired the Women’s Health Group prior to the publication of Women’s Health Plan.

The Chair indicated that the main role of the board was to provide direction and oversight for the implementation of the Women’s Health Plan (WHP) which will be delivered through the WHP Programme. The board will be the decision making body for the Plan, and will provide leadership and expert advice to support the implementation of the 66 actions set out in the Plan.

The aim of this introductory meeting was to provide members with background on the WHP; agree the remit of the board as set out in the draft Terms of Reference, and to discuss the next steps for Implementation. It was noted that Health and Social Care Services are currently facing extreme pressure, and this will be carefully considered when deciding how best to prioritise the actions, and the implementation of the Plan.

The Chair highlighted the recently published UK Government’s Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England, and confirmed that the WHP team have been meeting regularly with counterparts across the four nations to discuss priorities and action in relation to women’s health.

It was noted that the WHP team will create a public-facing webpage for the board on gov.scot which will include a list of members, (names and organisations), its remit, and papers and agreed minutes. The members were content with this.

Overview of Women’s Health Plan: presentation

The Chair invited Corinne Love to present on the background and development of the WHP. A copy of the presentation was circulated to members after the meeting. Following the presentation, members provided the following comments:

  • many of the inequalities faced by women are caused or exacerbated by societal issues, and not only health issues, so implementation of the actions in the WHP needs to also consider wider inequalities work outside of health
  • the Gender and Health subgroup of the Women’s Health Group had highlighted some of the wider inequalities issues, and it would be helpful for the Implementation Programme Board to have similar representation

Clarification was also sought on how the 66 actions had been placed in terms of timing and baseline.

The Chair and WHP team confirmed that implementation would link in with wider inequalities work across Scottish Government including social inclusion and poverty, and also that the intention was to invite the new Executive Director of Engender to join the Implementation Programme Board once that person was appointed. Some of the inequalities issues would no doubt also be picked up as part of the Lived Experience work. A pragmatic approach had been taken to the timing of actions, and baseline on which to measure impact, with the overall aim of evolving health and social care services so that over time they meet the needs of women more effectively.

Reflections from members on the Women’s Health Plan

The Chair invited members to share their thoughts and reflections on the Women’s Health Plan, and the role of their respective organisations in supporting implementation.

Reflections included:

  • Public Health Scotland’s role in developing some outputs around the sharing of intelligence and data from official statistics on health and social care
  • supporting coordination and implementation at NHS board level, third sector, medical professionals and within local communities
  • the ability of members to engage through their existing clinical, medical, third sector and local networks
  • coordinating engagement with medical professionals, and gathering practice views and on the ground intelligence from the different health sectors and specialities
  • building on the education components of the Plan including engagement with current education programmes and networks of academic groups
  • promoting current resources such as telephone consultations and
  • improving access to information on women’s health through NHS 24 and other resources

A discussion was had on the importance of taking a life course approach to this work, and also reflections given on how current resources within the community could be used as point of contact to improve women’s health. An example was given of localised care services within the community being used to check-in with women at different life-points about their health and raise awareness about women’s health. It was also reflected that the implementation of the WHP is happening at a critical time where there is a strong focus on system renewal and transformation following the pandemic.

Terms of reference

A summary of the draft Terms of Reference was provided, including the proposed role and remit of the board, the governance structure, membership and meeting frequency. Following a page-by-page review the Terms of Reference were accepted, subject to the role of members being strengthened where appropriate to include bringing in the views of wider stakeholders. The Chair also agreed to consider suggestions for two additional members.

Meeting action 1: Amendment to be made to the Terms of Reference to expand the role of members where appropriate.

Programme overview and update

The Programme Manager provided an introduction to the approach for managing the programme and an overview of current programme status. The presentation summarised the progress to date on the short term actions set out in the WHP, and highlighted progress since the WHP publication on actions such as development of the Women’s Health information platform on NHS 24, and work around Menopause.

Meeting action 2: Women’s Health Plan team to share a link to the menopause webpages and the links to the myth busting films on menopause.

Moving forward, programme highlight reports will be produced for the board on a quarterly basis. A copy of the presentation was circulated to members after the meeting.

Lived experience approach: group discussion

The Chair invited Irene Oldfather, Health and Social Care Alliance, to provide an overview of the lived experience proposal put forward by the Alliance. Background was provided on the Alliance’s involvement in the development of the WHP including chairing the Lived Experience Group and the survey carried out on ‘Hearing the Voices of Women in Scotland’ in October 2020.

The Lived experience proposal presented to the group outlined a programme of work to engage with women across Scotland. Irene Oldfather gave examples of what this work would potentially include. For example, information sessions on women’s health issues (similar to previous sessions on menopause); conversation cafes with women to reach voices across Scotland; and peer support groups to discuss experiences. Members were invited to share with wider colleagues and to share any follow-up comments with Irene Oldfather.

In general, the group supported the proposal and agreed it built on the initial lived experience report. There was a discussion on the need to ensure the voices of less heard women are included and potentially explore this by focusing on specific communities. It was also noted that men should be included as part of this programme of engagement.

A comment was made on capturing learning from the pandemic, and also reflecting on positive changes that were introduced through the pandemic such as the introduction of rapid access to contraception. Irene Oldfather flagged some recent reports by the Alliance and the Mobilisation Recovery Group that would be of interest to members:

Next steps

The Chair confirmed that the final version of Terms of Reference will be issued, with the minute of the meeting.

Greig Chalmers, Scottish Government, provided an update on the Women’s Health Plan WHP Delivery Group which is currently being established. The Delivery Group will sit under the board and the main membership will be Scottish Government policy leads with responsibility for delivering the 66 actions set out in the WHP. A discussion was had on how the impact of the actions in the Plan will be measured, and it was agreed that this will be explored further as part of the programme.

The Chair suggested that in addition to a general progress updates focusing on a specific topic (for example heart health) might be helpful for future meetings to allow the opportunity for more of a deep dive. This was welcomed by members.

Any other business

The next meeting of the board is scheduled for Wednesday 6 April 14:30 to 16:30, and the Women’s Heath Team will separately check with members on their availability.

Meeting action 3: Women’s Health Plan team to confirm date of the next meeting.

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