Praise for City & Hackney Women's Health Pilot
City and Hackney was highlighted as part of the Government’s announcement of new support for Women’s Health Hubs, which aim to improve access to women’s health services. Homerton Healthcare, Hackney Marshes and Well Street Common Neighbourhoods have worked together as part of the pilot, which started in 2021 with support from the City and Hackney Neighbourhoods Programme. The government announced a £25 million investment over the next two years to accelerate the development of new hubs to benefit women across England and help to ease pressures facing the NHS.
The announcement described City and Hackney as “leading the way with virtual menopause engagement events and group consultations.” So far, the pilot has reached 1,500 women through its innovative programme of virtual events and groups on menopause, periods, fertility and contraception. Residents receive a text message, inviting them to a virtual engagement event, and these have typically been attended by 150 women. The menopause events, for instance, have a panel including the community gynaecologist, psychologist and dietitian, who speak and answer questions. Attendees can then register for a smaller menopause virtual group consultation with about 10 women and the gynaecologist. The pilot has also included a specific Sex and the Menopause discussion group, and groups with the Homerton pain service focusing on non-medical approaches to managing painful periods.
This was one resident’s feedback after attending a virtual event and group consultation:
“Hearing other people’s stories was very valuable. I’m very impressed the NHS is experimenting with new formats like this – if I had an opportunity to join a group like this when I was struggling to get a diagnosis, I would have found it very helpful and empowering. It was great to see how open the doctor was to integrating other lifestyle interventions into medical treatment and encouraging us to share our experiences. This is one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had with the NHS and gives me hope you’re trying to do something to improve access to women’s health services”
The pilot also includes increased primary care education and face-to-face specialist clinics based in GP practices, which bring care closer to home and reduce pressures on hospital-based care. The hub model focuses on delivering services in the community that better fit around women’s lives and streamline access to women’s health services. They aim to address fragmentation in provision, for example by providing management of contraception and heavy bleeding in one visit, or integrating cervical screening with other aspects of women’s health care. As it develops, the pilot is identifying specific inequalities in care and outcomes in women’s health, including at the Neighbourhood level, and engaging with City and Hackney’s diverse communities to address these.