A year on from its Women’s Health Strategy, the Government has announced a package of new measures to boost the health and wellbeing of women and girls. Action is also being taken to support women and their families through pregnancy loss.
- First ever dedicated area for women and girls on NHS website, including new content on adenomyosis, periods and HRT.
- Support for bereaved parents who have experienced pregnancy loss, with voluntary certificates and work to provide appropriate 24/7 care.
- £25 million distributed nationwide to help create women’s health hubs.
The Government has announced the launch of a women’s health area on the NHS website. It will sit alongside a new HRT hub on the site, and will enable women and girls of all ages to access important information about their health easily.
The Government has also announced:
- the development of a new AI tool to identify early risks in maternity units. The Government will host an event where clinicians and data scientists will collaborate to harness the power of AI to analyse vast amounts of data, helping to identify any concerning trends in maternity units.
- £25 million will be distributed across England so every area can create a women’s health hub, with each Integrated Care Board set to receive £595,000 to meet local women’s health and wellbeing needs.
- greater IVF transparency through an accessible new tool on GOV.UK to allow people to look up information about NHS-funded IVF treatment in their area.
- the Women’s Health Ambassador for England, Professor Dame Lesley Regan, has formed a new network of Women’s Health Champions – made up of senior leadership in every local care system and co-chaired with NHS England – who will use their leadership and experience to drive forward wider work to improve women’s health.
The Government has listened to women who have campaigned for greater action on pregnancy loss and will now go further to help them tackle the heartbreak, pain and devastation that it can cause. In response to an important review – carried out by Zoe Clark-Coates MBE (Founder and CEO of The Mariposa Trust) and Samantha Collinge (Lead Bereavement Midwife - George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust) – into the care and support available to women when baby loss occurs before 24 weeks gestation the Government is taking action to support women and their families and to help them through the trauma of such an experience.
Review leads will continue to work with the Government as it implements the recommendations.
A voluntary Pregnancy Loss Certificate will be available to parents from Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October) to help parents through their pain and provide a form of comfort and acknowledgement. Given the importance of them feeling comfortable and respected over this summer, the certificate will be tested with 1,000 bereaved families who will be able to advise on the application process. Those involved with testing this summer will be able to receive a certificate themselves.
Work will also begin to explore more sensitive processes for women who experience the tragedy of pregnancy loss in their own home, at weekends or late in the evening. Finding somewhere to safely and respectfully keep fetal tissue should not add to an already difficult time.
NHS England will carry out an important review into the current provision of cold storage facilities at Early Pregnancy Assessment Units and A&E services. This will help government understand the level of funding needed to ensure women have 24/7 access to these units, so they aren’t expected to use their own refrigerators if they don’t want to, but have access to cold storage and clinical resources – even if it’s a weekend or evening.
Parents, clinicians and relevant design experts will also work together at speed to create a bespoke holder for storage and safekeeping that can be used by women and families when such tragic loss occurs. This will ensure the tissue can be placed and kept in something with due dignity and respect. The Human Tissue Authority will make any necessary updates to its guidance on the proper and respectful disposal of pregnancy tissue by March 2024.
Recurring miscarriage and pregnancy loss can also have a devastating impact. To ensure as few women as possible have to experience this heart-rending pain more than once, the charity Tommy’s Miscarriage Centre at Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital will now launch a three-month pilot exploring a “graded model” of miscarriage care. Women will receive testing and advice following a first, second, or third miscarriage, so they can identify any medical conditions they may have, help prevent further loss, and inform other women.
The Government will evaluate the outcomes of the pilot at the end of this year.