Concerns over women’s health in St Helens

editorial image
  • Report highlights women’s health needs
  • Council calls for specific focus on the issue
  • Alcohol abuse, self-harm and domestic abuse highlighted

A council report has highlighted growing concerns about women’s health in St Helens.

The report was put before councillors earlier this month and details the “significant and multiple” challenged faced by women in the borough.

In order to address these issues further engagement and insight will be needed to better understand women’s views

Interim director of public health, Susan Forster

The report, written by Susan Forster, interim director of public health, states: “Although some health needs are higher in men, compared with other similar boroughs the health and wellbeing of women and girls in St Helens is significantly poorer.

“This has implications for the young women’s aspirations, education and social care.

“In addition to working with men there is a need for specific focus on women’s health and wellbeing.”

Officials say more work is needed to engage with individuals particularly at risk of poor health outcomes.

“This will need work with vulnerable communities to understand and tackle root causes of problems to close the gap,” the report says.

“In order to address these issues further engagement and insight will be needed to better understand women’s views, motivation, and aspirations and to create a social movement for change.”

The report also highlighted alcohol abuse, smoking, self-harm, depression and domestic abuse as particular areas of concern.

“Life expectancy for women in St Helens is lower than the national average and varies across the borough,” the report adds.

“The major causes of disease and deaths are similar to other areas.

“There are some areas where St Helens is significantly different in health and wellbeing of women than other similar geographical areas.

“Harm from alcohol is significantly higher in women in St Helens, including deaths specifically due to excess alcohol and the broader harm that deaths and admissions due to alcohol.

“Rates of breastfeeding are low and this is a protective factor for bonding and attachment. Smoking in pregnancy rates are higher than the national average.”

Council officers recommended to councillors they sign off on a plan designed to “generate the conversation” and campaign on women’s wellbeing.

The report concludes: “Engaging local communities and in the conversation will generate insight, understanding of the issues and help to co-create some solutions.

“A women’s health summit is planned for the autumn of this year.”