An Oldham GP has criticised the ‘triumphalism’ surrounding the government’s 10-year Women’s Health Strategy and called for cultural change amid ongoing gender health inequalities.

Discussing the strategy published last month, Dr Anita Sharma a South Chadderton GP, said: “There is already a great deal of triumphalism about the Women’s Health Strategy and its much-vaunted consultation process, but the fact that it has taken nearly 75 years of NHS existence to publish one at all.

“Whilst of course I am delighted we actually have a Women’s Health Strategy, what is really required is a cultural change.

"The time has come to address disparities amongst women, ensuring that age, ethnicity, sexuality, and disability does not impact upon women’s ability to access services and support, or the treatment they receive.”

As part of its strategy the Government has set an ambition to ensure “women and girls feel listened to and have their concerns taken seriously at every stage of their journey”, from discussions about symptoms to treatments and follow-up care.

It comes after 84 per cent of people who responded to a Government consultation said women often feel ignored or not listened to when they seek help from the NHS for their health.

As part of the reforms, trainee medics will face assessments from the General Medical Council (GMC) on women’s health, with topics including the menopause, obstetrics, and gynaecology.

Those undergoing specialist training, such as to become a GP or physiotherapist, will also have teaching on women’s health, while existing doctors could take extra courses to top up their learning.

The report said that, while women make up 51 per cent of the population, “historically the health and care system has been designed by men, for men.”

It added: “This ‘male as default’ approach has been seen in research and clinical trials, education and training for healthcare professionals, and the design of healthcare policies and services.

“This has led to gaps in our data and evidence base which mean that that not enough is known about conditions that only affect women, for example menopause or endometriosis.”

To raise awareness of endometriosis Dr Sharma formed the Endometriosis North charity.

Discussing the lack of visibility surrounding the condition, Dr Sharma said: “There are two major issues at play, here.

“The first is that people perceive that endometriosis doesn’t kill. Apparently, the constant pain their sisters, mothers, wives, friends, and girlfriends experience somehow doesn’t matter.

“Then the fact is, it is a women’s health issue. For too long that has meant not receiving the same quality healthcare as men.”