This Women's Health Plan marks the first stage of a long-term commitment to reducing health inequalities for women.
This initial Plan has a specific focus on the following priority areas:
- ensure women who need it have access to specialist menopause services for advice and support on the diagnosis and management of menopause;
- improve access for women to appropriate support, speedy diagnosis and best treatment for endometriosis;
- improve access to information for girls and women on menstrual health and management options;
- improve access to abortion and contraception services;
- ensure rapid and easily accessible postnatal contraception; and
- reduce inequalities in health outcomes for women's general health, including work on cardiac disease.
Additionally, the 2021 SNP Manifesto committed to:
- establish a dignified, compassionate miscarriage service tailored to the needs of women, taking forward the findings of The Lancet report and supporting the development of individualised care plans after a woman's first miscarriage;
- emulate New Zealand where families who experience miscarriage or stillbirth are entitled to 3 days of paid leave by delivering this within the public sector and calling on the UK Government to make the necessary changes to employment law to make it available for everyone;
- review midwifery and health visiting pathways for new families and babies, improve access to practical breastfeeding support, physical therapy advice and increase postpartum and mental wellbeing support;
- ensure maternity departments have dedicated facilities for women who are experiencing unexpected pregnancy complications;
- reduce waiting times for diagnosing endometriosis from over 8 years to less than 12 months by the end of the parliament and look to improve the experience and diagnosis of women who visit their GPs with other menstrual problems;
- ensure women have improved access to specialist services for advice and support on the diagnosis and management of menopause. We will launch a public health campaign to remove stigma and raise awareness of the symptoms of menopause;
- ask clinical experts in the National Screening Committee to examine the merits of lowering the current age thresholds and commit to acting on their advice. Alongside this, we will invest in research to improve the accuracy of screening; and
- support the development of a new Scottish Institute for Women's Health to drive changes to policy, guidance and medical training on the basis of sex and gender medicine as well as provide funding to dedicated research into women's health.
Some of these priority areas, menopause and endometriosis in particular, build on themes included in this Plan. The majority of these commitments are not included within this iteration of the Women's Health Plan but will be progressed within this parliamentary term.
There are other important areas of women's health, highlighted by both women and clinicians during the process of developing this Plan, where health inequalities exist or where women are disproportionately impacted. These topics could form the basis of future iterations or stages of the Women's Health Plan. Future priorities and aims will be developed in collaboration with women and girls and informed through an ongoing lived experience group.
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