Cuts to Health Services for Women

Back to all Motions

2007 National Women's Conference
15 February 2007

The National Health Service (NHS) is in crisis. Much of the government’s injection of additional investment has ended up in the pockets of private companies. The end result of government policies has been job losses, cuts, closures and privatisation.

Women form the majority of the workforce in the NHS, and are also disproportionately represented in lower grade jobs where many of the cuts have fallen. The impact of the job losses often means the staff who are left have to work longer shifts and unsocial working patterns. This impacts on women’s work-life balance and family life.

In addition, in some areas up to 50 per cent of student nurses cannot find jobs when they graduate, and again the majority of student nurses are women. Women employees in the NHS are therefore disproportionately affected by NHS cuts and closures.

Women as carers are also disproportionately affected by the cuts. In mental health services, for example, large numbers of beds are being cut which often places additional pressures on women who have to care for their family members. The same points can be applied across other sectors of the NHS, which often results in women carers filling the gaps for services that should be provided by the public sector.

Conference believes that financial cuts in the National Health Service seem to impact disproportionately on health services used predominantly by women, for example proposed restrictions on access to IVF by under or overweight women; cuts to maternity services, less frequent checks for cervical smears; not being able to access cervical smears until the age of 25; decreasing the age at which mammograms can be accessed.

Conference applauds the UNISON campaign to “Keep the NHS Working”, and the unprecedented Trades Union Congress co-ordinated “NHS Together” initiative, and calls upon the National Women’s Committee to work with the National Executive Council, Health Service Group and Labour Link in supporting those campaigns and also in pursuing the following issues:

1)that all NHS job losses and restructurings are subject to gender impact assessments to assess the affect on women employees;

2)that all branches are aware of the potential of the Gender Equality Duty to improve the working lives of women by addressing issues such as occupational segregation, promoting and managing flexible working; ensuring high level part time work and supporting part time workers; managing leave for parents and carers.

3)launch a high profile advertising campaign, including lobbying MPs, producing supporting literature and working with the relevant parts of the union, to highlight the inequalities in the way that the financial situation in the National Health Service have been passed on to impact disproportionately on women’s health care.