North East and North Cumbria Women’s Health Strategy Conference: Turning intent into real action

Author: Siobhan Flynn

The first ever Women’s Health Strategy for England was published in August 2022 and ‘is a 10-year strategy that sets out a range of commitments to improve the health of women everywhere’ and seeks to advance how the health and care systems listens to and engages with all women and girls. Importantly, the strategy is centred on findings from a listening exercise that gained nearly 100,000 responses from Women across England, seeking to ensure women’s voices are heard.

Work is currently taking place to implement the Strategy across our regional footprint. The North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Women’s Health Conference took place on Thursday 19th October and provided a focal point and forum for the development of this Strategy. The conference was co-hosted by North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) and The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and gave an opportunity to take forward the development of the NENC Women’s Health Strategy Implementation plan and also showcase some of the work being done across our region and networks. 

Siobhan Flynn, North East and North Cumbria VCSE Engagement Manager and Greta Brunskill, Health and Wellbeing Research Partnerships Coordinator attended and each took part in workshops during the day which were based on priority areas within the Women’s Health Strategy for England. Priority areas include: menstrual health and genealogical conditions; fertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss and postnatal support; menopause; mental health and wellbeing; cancers; health impacts of violence against women and girls; healthy against and long term conditions. These workshops allowed an opportunity to hear about work currently happening in these priority areas and to share learning.

The day was filled with networking, discussions about how we make positives changes to healthcare for women across NENC, and hearing stories about some of the incredible work already taking place. The VCSE sector presented across various workshops and were able to clearly demonstrate the vital role that the sector plays in addressing Women’s healthcare needs. Throughout keynote speeches the VCSE sector was noted, with the importance of collaborative working highlighted. 

When Sam Allen, Chief Executive of the Integrated Care Board, addressed the room she stated "let’s turn intent into real action" – for the VCSE Partnership Programme this means ensuring that VCSE voices are included in the development of the Implementation Plan and working together across sectors to improve the lives of Women across NENC. 

One means of facilitating this is by ensuring that the voluntary sector is represented at discussions focusing on Women’s Health services in our region. The NENC Women’s Health Collaborative seeks to work together to help improve the way in which the health and care system listens to women’s voices, and boost health outcomes for women and girls. The collaborative welcomes new members, from across all sectors, to join contact

The VCSE Partnership Programme aims to ensure the VCSE sector is embedded at all levels of the NENC Integrated Care System (ICS), from strategic board level to design and delivery of services in neighbourhoods and localities. The Programme currently hosts eight VCSE sub-groups, including one specifically for VCSE organisations who work with women and/or women and girls experiencing violence. Sign up here.