Today I submitted Pause’s responses to the Department for Health and Social Care’s consultation on their Women’s Health Strategy which you can read here.
Our submission talked about how women working with Pause often feel unheard and excluded from discussions on women’s health, so it was important we got their voices heard. To prepare our submission to the consultation, we were able to hold a virtual focus group with four women working with Pause who took the time to share their lived experiences. They were able to give an insight on what recommendations and key messages they want to be shared for England’s first Women’s Health Strategy which we hope will be taken into consideration by the Government. Thank you so much to the women who gave up their time to take part in the focus groups to share their experiences and shaped our response to the consultation.
We want to see a Women’s Health Strategy that recognises the health needs of women who have experienced the removal of children from their care, listens to their experience and provides trauma informed support to prevent it happening more than once.
Key Messages for the Women’s Health Strategy
- Women who work with Pause face a range of health issues and inequalities. They will likely have experienced adversity and trauma in their childhood and life and possibly have experience of the care system themselves.
- Women working with Pause often fall outside the remit of statutory agencies which can mean that they are hidden to services.
- Health inequality among women who experience the removal of children from their care more than once mean they are at higher risk of dying prematurely than the rest of the adult women population. You can find out more about data and women’s deaths in an episode of Pause and Listen, the podcast by Pause: Data and women’s deaths – an unacceptable reality.
- During focus groups, women spoke about the importance of accessible information that is clear, in plain English, and acknowledges their reading and writing abilities. This allowed them to feel confident when engaging with services and could follow changes happening.
- Maintaining relationships with children can be vital to the wellbeing of children no longer in their birth parents’ care and is important to the wellbeing and outcomes of their birth mothers as well. You can read more in our report Knowing They’re OK.
Pause recommendation for the Women’s Health Strategy
We want to see a health system and strategy that recognise the impact of trauma and adversity on women’s physical and mental health and puts in place services to women’s health. Our recommendations for the Women’s Health Strategy are:
- Health services should actively seek feedback from women who have experienced the removal of a child from their care and hear their experiences of accessing services.
- Mental health services should be properly resourced and accessible for women who have experienced complex trauma.
- There should be statutory trauma-informed support for women after the removal of a child from their care to prevent it happening again.
- Information about health services should be in clear, plain English and women should be given sufficient time to process information to make informed choices about their healthcare.
- Women should be supported in navigating service pathways which can be complicated for them and can result in being disengaged when offered support.
You can read our submission to the Women’s Health Strategy consultation here.