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Structured GP care programme sought for women’s healthcare

By Niamh Cahill - 05th Mar 2023

womens healthcare

A leading specialist in women’s healthcare has called for the creation of a structured care programme dedicated to the area in Irish general practice.

Dr Ciara McCarthy, ICGP/HSE Clinical Lead in Women’s Health, said Irish women deserve a high-quality service devoted to their care.

She explained a structured care programme would be similar in nature to the chronic disease management programmes currently in operation in general practice.

“The women’s health action plan has a lovely, clear image of the different needs of women at different life stages,” Dr McCarthy told the Medical Independent.

“For example, in young women, contraception and sexual health tend to be more important, then this moves to family planning, pre-conceptual advice, and cervical screening before moving into areas, such as menopause, osteoporosis prevention, and optimisation of cardiovascular health, for example.

“Ultimately, in the future, it would be lovely if there was a structured care programme in place for women to allow them to access regular health checks, taking into account their individual life stage.

“This is what we should be aiming for. We should be aiming high because the women of Ireland deserve that, and the momentum is there. We should aim high and aim for high quality care where we can.”

Dr McCarthy is currently halfway through a two-year role as clinical lead, which to date has overseen the publication of patient information videos and several educational guides for GPs.

The Cork-based GP has specialist knowledge of women’s reproductive health and was a trainer in long-acting reversible contraception and early medical abortion.

The Department of Health’s Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-2023 identified the need for a clinical lead in women’s health in general practice last year. A total of €69.2 million in funding will support women’s health developments in 2023. See news interview.

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