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Women's Voices newsletter December 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of the newsletter and, as always, a particular welcome to new members of the Involvement Panel.

  1. Foreword by Kate Brian, RCOG Women’s Voices Lead
  2. Better for Women report launch
  3. Disparities in O&G outcomes and experiences of BAME women


Foreword by Kate Brian, RCOG Women’s Voices Lead

Season's greetings! Welcome to the December edition of the Women’s Voices newsletter and, as always, a particular welcome to new members of the Involvement Panel.

Women's Voices December 2019 foreword photo

It has been a very busy and exciting time at the RCOG as the College has moved from Regent’s Park to new offices at London Bridge, and the new President of the RCOG, Eddie Morris, has just taken office along with his team of new Vice-Presidents. Eddie is really committed to making sure women’s voices remain front and centre within the College’s work so I’m looking forward to new opportunities during his presidency.

We also had the launch of the Better For Women report at Westminster earlier this month. The recommendations in this document have the potential to transform women’s health care; taking a holistic approach covering the issues women may face from their teenage years right through to post-menopause. I was delighted to be invited to speak at the launch at the House of Commons and it was fantastic to see a good number of women’s voices there. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the report during its development. Do read the document if you haven’t already.

We also had our first RCOG Women’s Network meeting outside London this month which is something we have wanted to do for some time. We really enjoyed our day in Manchester, kindly hosted by one of the Network’s clinical members, Rohna Kearney. It was a great opportunity to meet local clinicians and women, including representatives from the local Maternity Voices Partnership.

On behalf of the Women's Network members, I wanted to thank our outgoing Vice-President Alison Wright for all her support and commitment to the Women’s Network and Women’s Voices Involvement Panel. Many of you who have been involved in women’s health for some time will have met Ali, and will know what a passionate advocate of women’s involvement in health she is. We shall all miss Ali now she has come to the end of her term, but we will really look forward to working with Sue Ward, who will be the new Vice-President on the Network and support the college’s work to involve the public.

Thanks to all of you for your interest and involvement recently and over the past year. I wish you all the best for the festive period and for a very happy New Year.

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Better for Women report launch

The RCOG launched a landmark report Better for Women to improve the health and wellbeing of girls and women across their life course.

The Better For Women report outlines a bold new approach to women’s healthcare. Many members of Women’s Voices were involved in developing this document over recent months; sharing your views and experiences of accessing health services.

The report calls for:

  • Easy access to contraception, abortion and fertility services
  • NHS-led women’s health strategies to focus on a preventative model of healthcare, rather than the current disease intervention service
  • The NHS UK website should become the best source of information for girls, women and clinician
  • All young people to be educated from an early age about women’s health
  • Women’s health issues, such as the menopause, to be embedded in workplace policies
  • Prevention of deaths from gynaecological cancers across the life-course

The College is looking forward to the next steps; working with partners – including Women’s Voices - to influence the implementation of the recommendations outlined in Better for Women.

The College’s outgoing President, Professor Lesley Regan, said of the report:

“Many of the barriers to access to women’s healthcare services can be improved by ensuring services are joined up and more responsive to the needs of girls and women. It is important we provide a comprehensive health service for girls and women throughout their lives. We want to empower 51% of the population to be as healthy as possible and ensure no one is left behind.”

Watch a video about the Better for Women report on the Women's Voices Youtube channel.

Read the report here on the RCOG website at

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Disparities in O&G outcomes and experiences of BAME women

In September 2019, the RCOG Women's Network held a workshop to understand more about disparities in O&G outcomes and experiences of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) women in the UK. This was following the 2018 MBRRACE-UK report which reported higher maternal mortality rates for BAME women.

Women's Voices December 2019 BAME meeting photo

The Network wanted to support the College to better understand the stark statistics and consider what can be done so invited leading experts in the field to present their insights and knowledge on the issue. This allowed the Network to consider some practical approaches the College can take to ensure it addresses this issue proactively across its work to educate and examine O&G doctors, provide clinical guidance, audit services and improve quality and influence wider policy.

With the support of the Women’s Network’s Clinical Champions some clear recommendations emerged which the Network is looking forward to supporting the College to implement next year. The theme of the RCOG’s International Women’s Day event on 6th March will look at this issue in more depth. Watch this space for more details about the event.

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