10 How will we make change happen and who needs to be involved?
This is a long-term commitment to improving women's health and it is clear that developing the actions identified and the implementation of this Plan will require a collective and collaborative effort.
10.1 Creating the conditions for change
Change cannot happen overnight. Many of the actions identified in this Women's Health Plan relate to starting the conversation about women's health. As this is the first iteration of the Women's Health Plan many of the actions are dependent on creating the conditions for change and developing a sound foundation to ensure that women's needs are considered in all future Scottish Government and NHSScotland policies.
The most important places to facilitate immediate change, with [with regard to women's health inequalities] are in educational curricula, research, and clinical practice guidelines.
Dr Alyson McGregor, 'Sex Matters: How male-centric medicine endangers women's health and what we can do about it'
The realisation for this vision for women's health is dependent upon achievement of the following:
- Empowering women and girls
Women and girls should be empowered to help themselves to improve their health. This must involve improved access to reliable information and services that meet their needs. We are committed to ensuring an ongoing lived experience group to ensure women inform the priorities for future work.
- Enhanced education of the health and social care workforce
Improving the understanding of women's health amongst the whole workforce, including an awareness of sex-related differences in the manifestation of different conditions is central to improving women's health and their experience of healthcare. This will involve engaging with current staff in addition to ensuring women's health is a central consideration in the training of our future workforce.
- High-quality data and research that is disaggregated by sex and gender
The availability of robust and sex and gender-specific data is central to our ability to develop evidence based policy and to measure our success in reducing inequalities for women. This will require collection and analysis of data relevant to women's health alongside increasing the representation of women at all stages of clinical research both as participants and investigators.
There must be renewed effort to tackle the gender data gap by funding more studies which focus on women's health and responses to treatment to eliminate the gender bias evident in diagnosis, treatment and medical research.
10.2 Who needs to be involved
The Women's Health Plan has been developed with partners in health and social care, the third sector and most importantly with women themselves. We need to continue and strengthen this collaboration as we work towards achieving our vision for women's health.
Achievement of this vision will involve not only the Scottish Government and NHSScotland, but also organisations and individuals operating at various levels and in various sectors across Scotland, from local community organisations and those who provide advocacy support to specialist health services and clinicians, third sector partners, local authorities, government policy makers and finance leads. We do not underestimate the collective effort that will be required to deliver this vision.
Women's Health Champion
This Plan for women's health will require long-term cultural change, much of which begins with starting the conversation about women's health. To ensure this conversation happens at a strategic level, we intend to appoint a national Women's Health Champion to drive forward this strategic change. The Women's Health Champion will be the linchpin that coordinates efforts from the many different groups involved in the achievement of our vision for women's health in Scotland. They will be central to ensuring the key areas highlighted above are the catalyst for a continued focus on women's health going forward.
The Women's Health Champion will:
- drive forward strategic change nationally;
- raise awareness of women's health;
- promote the Women's Health Plan;
- support a network of local women's health experts and leaders; and
- have an integral role in the implementation of this, and subsequent, women's health plans.
Women's Health Plan Implementation Programme Board
In order to ensure that progress is achieved and that the actions within this Plan are implemented effectively and in partnership, we will establish a Women's Health Plan Implementation Programme Board. Membership of this board will include the Women's Health Champion and organisations and individuals directly involved in the implementation of actions included within this Plan.
An annual update will be produced detailing progress made in the implementation of the actions included within this Plan.
An implementation report will be published in 2024-25 which will capture progress made, analyse the impact of the Plan and consider lessons learned.
These are some of the groups who will be integral to reducing health inequalities for women and for achieving this vision for women's health, including the central role of the Women's Health Champion.
Women's Health Plan
Women's Health Champion
Women and Girls
- Lived Experience Sub-group
- Health & Social Care
- Equality leads
Other Public Sector
- Local Authorities
- NHS Boards
- NHS Workforce
- Health and Social Care Partnerships
- Royal Colleges
- Teaching Institutions
- The Alliance
- Women's Support Organisations
- Equality Organisations
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