The Scottish Government has published its Women’s Health Plan, which the College has broadly welcomed.

The Women’s Health Plan seeks to highlight and address inequalities impacting women’s health. The plan includes new action in relation to:

  • establishing a dignified and compassionate miscarriage service tailored to the needs of women;
  • the provision of paid leave for miscarriage and stillbirth, 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;
  • a review of midwifery and health visiting pathways;
  • unexpected pregnancy complications;
  • age thresholds for Screening; and
  • the establishment of a Scottish Institute for Women’s Health.

The College notes growing evidence of the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. We are encouraged that the Women’s Health Plan takes account of this, as well as historic inequalities, in seeking to address the health inequality that many women face.

It is vital that government, and all of those involved in delivering care, learn from the inequalities exposed by the pandemic, to address the specific needs of women seeking healthcare, and to provide better education and information to young women and girls about women’s health.

In providing healthcare, all medical professionals must be mindful of women’s health requirements, as well as the social and economic inequalities that many women experience.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh commends the Women’s Health Plan, and we would welcome any further opportunities to support the plan.

Dr Sue Pound, Vice President for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said:

I welcome the fact that this report encompasses a much broader perspective than reproductive health alone, to include health inequalities – recognition of the importance of the social and economic determinants of health – shared decision making, and a call for improvement and innovation.

Taking a life course approach, this report focuses on specific areas of women’s health but should also be considered in the context of initiatives to improve health and wellbeing for all, including healthy eating, smoking cessation, reducing harm from alcohol and drugs, encouraging physical activity and sport and strategies to encourage healthy ageing.