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The RCOG vision for women’s healthcare for the next government

17 May 2024

Today, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has announced its five calls to action for the next UK government.

Women make up 51% of the population, yet women’s health has historically been left behind. Investment in services is inadequate and fragmented alongside persistently low levels of investment in women’s health research. This means missed opportunities to provide the right information, care and support at the right time across women’s life course.

The next government must set an ambition vision for women’s health, and consider how all government department policies can have the biggest possible impact on all women’s health and wellbeing.
Addressing these five actions will be essential to improving the health of women and girls throughout the life course, in the UK and globally. The RCOG’s is calling for:      

  1. The government to prioritise women’s health and maintain a focus on implementing the Women’s Health Strategy in the long term.
  2. The government to significantly improve maternity care by implementing fully funded cross-government policies and programmes to ensure all women and birthing people receive high-quality, personalised and safe maternity care. 
  3. The Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England to set up a joint taskforce to address the unique growth in waiting lists in gynaecology.
  4. A commitment to parliamentary time for abortion law reform.
  5. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to return spending on sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights (SRHR) to pre-cut levels of 5% of the Official Development Aid budget.
Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said: “While we welcomed recent government strategies for women’s health, progress feels frustratingly slow. We are calling for focused action and sufficient investment by the next Government to ensure that women across the world can equitably access the right care at the right time, across their lives.
“The benefits of addressing each action cannot be underestimated. Sexual and reproductive health and rights should be a priority for Government funding both in the UK and through our Official Development Aid globally because women’s rights are important. If women and girls are to be supported to fully participate in social and political life and make decisions about their own bodies, they must have access to sexual and reproductive health and rights across the life course. A commitment to parliamentary time for abortion law reform will help to protect women’s rights to access essential reproductive healthcare within the UK.
“Every pregnant woman and person should receive safe, compassionate and personalised maternity care. Every woman should receive timely hospital care for gynaecology conditions that have a serious impact on health and wellbeing. Every woman should have access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare, and be able to access safe abortion without fear of prosecution.
 “Obstetricians and gynaecologists are at risk of burnout and our calls for action also urge the future government to commit to vital action on workforce retention, flexible working, training and development.”
Jane Plumb, RCOG’s Women’s Voices Lead, said: "It is essential that women’s health receives the necessary investment that it has historically lacked. It is also essential that the next UK government listens to women and service users to help inform policies and ensure that the available care will meet their needs.
“We need to do better for our women and girls and people by providing the right information, care, and support across the life course. Addressing the five key actions identified in this document is vital to achieving this, both in the UK and globally.”
  • View full document here.
  • You can find more detail about each of the key asks and our policy positions here.
  • Corporate
  • Policy and governance
  • Pregnancy and birth
  • Fertility
  • Abortion
  • Menopause
  • Gynaecology