Leeds ,
08
March
2019
|
02:07
Europe/London

New report provides first in-depth analysis of women’s health in Leeds

A new report providing a comprehensive picture of life, health and wellbeing for women and girls in Leeds is published today (Friday 8th March 2019).

Commissioned by Leeds City Council in collaboration with Women’s Lives Leeds, the report comes from detailed analysis of data about health and other factors, combined with conversations with women from across Leeds. Launched on International Women’s Day, city leaders have affirmed that the report will be used to inform future policies and plans.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“This report highlights that although there are many positive things happening in Leeds which improve women’s health and overall lives, there are still women who have poor health and live in difficult circumstances.

“This reflects pressures on our communities in a changing world where people are facing austerity and a society not properly aware of the significant health challenges women face. The report provides both evidence and recommendations to help us make women’s lives better.

“Everyone has a part to play in achieving a better balance. In health, work and leisure all the time, everywhere, and not just on International Women’s Day we can notice its absence and celebrate its presence.”

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, said:

“I am delighted we have produced the first significant analysis of the state of women’s health and what this means for Leeds. We will use it across the city to help improve women’s health, and hope it will also be useful beyond Leeds, helping people to understand the need for gender sensitive services for women.

Main findings from the report are:

  • Women’s life expectancy is dropping, despite improved cancer and cardiovascular health
  • Leeds women have higher levels of smoking, drug and alcohol abuse than nationally
  • Mental health is a key concern for women and girls
  • The ageing population increases the risk of dementia, frailty and falls for women
  • Women’s reproductive and maternity health issues need greater recognition and support
  • Safety is a priority for the women and girls of Leeds
  • For many women life is more complex - often because of austerity - and this has implications for their physical and mental health

Jeannette Morris-Boam, Project Manager, Women's Lives Leeds, said:

“What makes this research different is that we made sure women and girls from across Leeds took part and provided their voices. This has helped us to understand their issues and the priorities they feel need to be addressed. What they said reminded us of how important it was to listen to them and they highlighted that women need to be treated as a whole not just as their conditions, and that to make sure their health needs can be addressed there needs to be both conversation and adequate resources in place.”

Report lead author Professor Alan White, Emeritus Professor, Leeds Beckett University, said:

“There are many positive changes to the lives of women, with decreases in cancer and cardiovascular disease. There are also excellent examples of good work being done within the city to support the needs of girls and women, which is showing dividends. However, there are still many areas of women’s lives that are negatively affected by prevailing socio-cultural factors that have limited women in many ways.”

“The rise in mental health difficulties, the emerging range of hidden and under-recognised reproductive health conditions, the challenge of increasing addiction, mostly compounded by poverty and complex home circumstances, and the risk of physical or sexual abuse have to be recognised and acted upon within the city.”

Among the recommendations made in the report are:

  • Prioritise social and economic equality to improve health equality, ensuring women’s voices heard in the design and delivery of services
  • Reproductive and maternal health’s importance must be reflected in support for girls and women with issues such as PMS, dysmenorrhoea, the menopause, endometriosis, perinatal problems and chronic pelvic pain
  • Continue promoting best practice and opportunities for breastfeeding and home births
  • Further backing for women at risk of domestic abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child exploitation and abuse, and sexual exploitation
  • Promote understanding of healthy relationships as a priority for schools
  • Help women to be safe wherever they are in Leeds, at all times, for instance by working with public transport and taxi services to ensure women can travel without worry at night
  • Increase colorectal, lung, breast and cervical cancer screening rates and work with women’s groups to make screening more acceptable
  • Develop female-focused lifestyle services
  • Back services to improve mental health
  • Ensure women’s mental health and physical health are both supported and enhance the quality of women’s life to improve overall health
  • Recognise issues for women as they get older, including dementia, stigma, the role of female carers and social isolation and loneliness and the increased risk of falls

The full State of Women’s Health in Leeds Report and the Summary can be found at: http://bit.ly/WomensHealthLeeds19 and www.womenslivesleeds.org.uk/womenshealth It has an analysis of available data relating to the health and social lives of women in Leeds and a comprehensive literature review of key issues facing women. This work was also informed by the Women’s Voices Study and consultative events held by the Leeds Women and Girls Hub.

Notes for editors:

The report will be formally launched at an event at Northern Ballet on International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March 2019.

A new report providing a comprehensive picture of life, health and wellbeing for women and girls in Leeds is published today (Friday 8th March 2019).

Commissioned by Leeds City Council in collaboration with Women’s Lives Leeds, the report comes from detailed analysis of data about health and other factors, combined with conversations with women from across Leeds. Launched on International Women’s Day, city leaders have affirmed that the report will be used to inform future policies and plans.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“This report highlights that although there are many positive things happening in Leeds which improve women’s health and overall lives, there are still women who have poor health and live in difficult circumstances.

“This reflects pressures on our communities in a changing world where people are facing austerity and a society not properly aware of the significant health challenges women face. The report provides both evidence and recommendations to help us make women’s lives better.

“Everyone has a part to play in achieving a better balance. In health, work and leisure all the time, everywhere, and not just on International Women’s Day we can notice its absence and celebrate its presence.”

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, said:

“I am delighted we have produced the first significant analysis of the state of women’s health and what this means for Leeds. We will use it across the city to help improve women’s health, and hope it will also be useful beyond Leeds, helping people to understand the need for gender sensitive services for women.

Main findings from the report are:

  • Women’s life expectancy is dropping, despite improved cancer and cardiovascular health
  • Leeds women have higher levels of smoking, drug and alcohol abuse than nationally
  • Mental health is a key concern for women and girls
  • The ageing population increases the risk of dementia, frailty and falls for women
  • Women’s reproductive and maternity health issues need greater recognition and support
  • Safety is a priority for the women and girls of Leeds
  • For many women life is more complex - often because of austerity - and this has implications for their physical and mental health

Jeannette Morris-Boam, Project Manager, Women's Lives Leeds, said:

“What makes this research different is that we made sure women and girls from across Leeds took part and provided their voices. This has helped us to understand their issues and the priorities they feel need to be addressed. What they said reminded us of how important it was to listen to them and they highlighted that women need to be treated as a whole not just as their conditions, and that to make sure their health needs can be addressed there needs to be both conversation and adequate resources in place.”

Report lead author Professor Alan White, Emeritus Professor, Leeds Beckett University, said:

“There are many positive changes to the lives of women, with decreases in cancer and cardiovascular disease. There are also excellent examples of good work being done within the city to support the needs of girls and women, which is showing dividends. However, there are still many areas of women’s lives that are negatively affected by prevailing socio-cultural factors that have limited women in many ways.”

“The rise in mental health difficulties, the emerging range of hidden and under-recognised reproductive health conditions, the challenge of increasing addiction, mostly compounded by poverty and complex home circumstances, and the risk of physical or sexual abuse have to be recognised and acted upon within the city.”

Among the recommendations made in the report are:

  • Prioritise social and economic equality to improve health equality, ensuring women’s voices heard in the design and delivery of services
  • Reproductive and maternal health’s importance must be reflected in support for girls and women with issues such as PMS, dysmenorrhoea, the menopause, endometriosis, perinatal problems and chronic pelvic pain
  • Continue promoting best practice and opportunities for breastfeeding and home births
  • Further backing for women at risk of domestic abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child exploitation and abuse, and sexual exploitation
  • Promote understanding of healthy relationships as a priority for schools
  • Help women to be safe wherever they are in Leeds, at all times, for instance by working with public transport and taxi services to ensure women can travel without worry at night
  • Increase colorectal, lung, breast and cervical cancer screening rates and work with women’s groups to make screening more acceptable
  • Develop female-focused lifestyle services
  • Back services to improve mental health
  • Ensure women’s mental health and physical health are both supported and enhance the quality of women’s life to improve overall health
  • Recognise issues for women as they get older, including dementia, stigma, the role of female carers and social isolation and loneliness and the increased risk of falls

The full State of Women’s Health in Leeds Report and the Summary can be found at: http://bit.ly/WomensHealthLeeds19 and www.womenslivesleeds.org.uk/womenshealth It has an analysis of available data relating to the health and social lives of women in Leeds and a comprehensive literature review of key issues facing women. This work was also informed by the Women’s Voices Study and consultative events held by the Leeds Women and Girls Hub.

Notes for editors:

The report will be formally launched at an event at Northern Ballet on International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March 2019.

Highlights from evidence:

  • A House of Commons report showed 86% of the burden for austerity has fallen on women. In Leeds the mortality rate in more deprived Leeds areas is 40% higher than the wealthiest areas.
  • Life expectancy for women in Leeds is falling and nearly a year below the national average.
  • Cancers are the main cause of female death (26%) and more women die from lung cancer than in other parts of the country.
  • Chronic respiratory disease kills more women than breast cancer, with smoking the main cause.
  • Fewer women are dying from breast cancer, but less women attend screening than average.
  • Cervical cancer screening levels are above average, with falling death rates.
  • Dementia is the highest recorded reason for women dying.
  • Cardiovascular disease in women is down by 27% in the last 10 years.
  • Over 3,000 females have Type 1 and over 16,000 Type 2 diabetes.
  • Over 150,000 women in Leeds have one or more long-term conditions and nearly 20,000 are very frail.
  • Women over 65 years have twice as many emergency admissions due to a fall as men
  • Women have higher rates of sexually transmitted disease, but there is improved effectiveness in targeting those most at risk.
  • More young women are developing mental health problems.
  • Twice as many women as men are recorded as having a common mental health disorder.
  • Black women, asylum seekers, refugees, and Gypsy and Traveller women have higher rates of common mental health issues and are less likely to receive mental health treatment.
  • 30% of women accessing support for drug/alcohol treatment have a mental health condition, compared to 21% of men
  • Self-harm and eating disorders are more common in girls and women. Around one in four young girls, report having self-harmed nationally, equating to almost 16,000 women in Leeds aged 16 – 24 years old.
  • Violence, abuse and trauma are notable causes of mental health problems.
  • Twice as many women access the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service as males.
  • Between 10 – 20% of women will experience mental ill health during or just after pregnancy.
  • Women are more likely than men to becoming addicted to smoking, alcohol and drugs and find it harder to stop.
  • Less Leeds women are smoking now, but levels are higher than both regional and England averages. More men than women smoke, but Leeds school age girls are more likely to smoke than similar aged boys. In Leeds 9.8% of pregnant women smoke - below the national average.
  • Women from wealthier parts of the city tend to drink more, but alcohol-related mortality is higher in the poorest areas.
  • Women dying because of drug and substance abuse has recently risen, with Leeds rates higher than England rates. Women increasingly use alcohol and detox rehabilitation.
  • Problem gambling - predominately seen in men – is now increasing for women.
  • Obesity has significant health consequences for women, including increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular problems and implications for fertility and problems during pregnancy. 7.1% of adult women in Leeds are obese, rising to over 30% in some areas, with a strong link to poverty. Women have double the rate for hospital admissions for obesity treatment. More women than men are diagnosed as underweight, which also raises health risks.
  • Women tend to be less physically active than men, particularly in more deprived areas. South Asian girls have the lowest of physical activity levels in the city.
  • Complex needs related to reproductive health impact on women in Leeds. This includes a significant proportion suffering monthly due to premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea. This can affect schooling and work
  • Many conditions linked to women’s reproductive health, such as chronic pelvic pain, can significantly affect quality of life. However, these are often under-recognised by society and health services. The menopause affects every woman and can cause severe problems, yet remains poorly understood.
  • Teenage conception rates in Leeds are higher than the UK but falling.
  • There are an increasing number of women who are pregnant over the age of 30.
  • There were nearly 3,000 abortions in Leeds in 2016.
  • Women who lose a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or through abortion due to fetal anomaly need support and guidance.
  • At 3.1% Leeds has an increasing number of home births, with the hope to increase it further.
  • Less babies are taken into care, but there are still more than average repeat care proceedings.
  • Breastfeeding numbers vary greatly, from 73% initiating breastfeeding in non-deprived areas to 65.5% in deprived areas. Just 19.5% of white British women living in the most deprived areas maintain breastfeeding.
  • Long-term consequences of pregnancy and childbirth, such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, can have a marked effect on a woman’s physical and emotional health and quality of life.
  • Girls and women still face significant safety risks, both within the home and in wider society. Sexual assault, child sexual abuse and exploitation, domestic violence, bullying, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and sexual exploitation, are all cause for concern.
  • Across Leeds 77% of those reporting domestic violence are female and 21% male and where a suspect was identified 26% were female and 74% were male.

Women’s Lives Leeds (WLL) is a unique partnership of eleven women and girls centred third sector organisations, who between them have over 250 years of experience of working with and supporting women and girls from some of the most disadvantaged communities in Leeds. They have specialisms in domestic abuse, violence against women and girls, mental health, sexual health, sex work, trafficking, the criminal justice system, substance misuse, child sexual exploitation and education.

WLL came together in May 2016 as part of the Big Lottery’s Women’s and Girls Initiative and developed a project that was launched on 1st November 2016. www.womenslivesleeds.org.uk

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Women’s Lives Leeds (WLL) is a unique partnership of eleven women and girls centred third sector organisations, who between them have over 250 years of experience of working with and supporting women and girls from some of the most disadvantaged communities in Leeds. They have specialisms in domestic abuse, violence against women and girls, mental health, sexual health, sex work, trafficking, the criminal justice system, substance misuse, child sexual exploitation and education.

WLL came together in May 2016 as part of the Big Lottery’s Women’s and Girls Initiative and developed a project that was launched on 1st November 2016. www.womenslivesleeds.org.uk