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Getting women’s voices heard in Bristol’s health care system

More than 60 women were present at our Members’ Summer Event at the end of July discussing women’s health and the challenges of having our voices heard in the care setting.  

Clare Meraz, BWV trustee and Associate Director of People at North Bristol NHS Trust, chaired a panel of healthcare experts and professionals consisting of Dr Seema Srivastava MBE, a consultant in geriatric medicine and Deputy Medical Director at University Hospitals Bristol; Monira Chowdhury, from Bristol Women’s Commission and BWV Trustee Emily Johnstone, who is a lawyer advocating for women in clinical negligence claims.  

We heard about the difficulties women experience accessing the support they need from the health service, with further disparities by ethnicity, age and social background. 84% of women report that their health concerns have not been taken seriously, and attendees shared personal stories of their experiences, with one woman sharing that she always prioritised her children for appointments.  

Emily shared some of the devastating consequences this can have, with the tragic example of vaginal mesh surgeries impacting lives. We discussed representation within the health service which, although 70% female, is predominantly led by men. 

There was hope however, as we heard from Monira about years of advocacy in Bristol, culminating in the publication of the women’s health strategy, from Seema about how the health service is training new generations to be conscious of their biases and assumptions as well as empowering girls to “be their queen” and advocate for themselves, and from Emily about the many organisations advocating for women and their health.  

The second part of our evening, saw us bring women together around some truly delicious Carribean food cooked for the event by Glen’s Kitchen to discuss a whole host of topics to help us shape the future of Bristol Women’s Voice.  

Around eight tables, we asked you for your views on Campaigns & Activism; Inclusion; Events; Membership; Young Women’s Organiser as well as all other matters table. You came brimming with ideas which the team are putting together and organising by theme. Some of it will feed into our campaigning plans and help us shape the programme for International Women’s Day (make sure you save the date: 2 March 2024).   

For more information about joining Bristol Women’s Voice, please visit our Become a Member page. 

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