Bristol publishes its most in depth report into women’s health: Bristol Womens Health 2017

12 Jan 2018

Public Health

Bristol publishes its most in depth report into women’s health

Bristol City Council has published a new report about the health of women in Bristol as part of a wider project to assess the health needs of the city.

The report is the first of its kind in Bristol and looks specifically at women’s health needs in the city. It was produced in partnership with the Bristol Women’s Commission.

The report shows how different groups of women experience common health issues differently, including mental health and gender-based violence. It also looks at areas that are often less talked about which impact on women throughout their lives, including menstruation, childbirth, incontinence and menopause.

The report highlights areas for concern in mental health, including that the female suicide rate in Bristol is higher than the national average. Bristol’s rate was most recently estimated at over 7 cases per for every 100,000 women compared to the national rate of almost 5 women per every 100,000*. Out of the 1,536 incidences of self-harm presenting to Bristol Royal Infirmary in 2016, 63% of patients were women. The report also showed that, in Bristol, women are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders than men**.

Bristol has a lower than average rate of gender violence compared to national statistics. However, some local areas have far higher rates which peak at 42 reported incidents per 1000 of the population against a national average of just over 22 per 1,000 of the population.

Across the city it was shown that there were higher levels for obesity for women (15.8%) than men (13.7%) with women being shown to be less likely to be active ***. Again there were wide variations across the city, with lower levels of obesity in the more affluent areas across all genders****.

The report also examines issues which are gender specific around menstruation and menopause. It reports concerns across the city from council services and elected members that better education on issues around menstruation is needed, along with affordable feminine hygiene and health products.

Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor said: “This report demonstrates that there is much we can learn about how issues around gender can affect the health of our city. This report is one of the first of its kind focusing on issues around women’s health within Bristol. It is an important part of recognising the issues we know are present so that the city can address them.

“This report will form a strong evidence base for our strategy for women’s health. We are developing this alongside Bristol Women’s Commission to show how we are going to tackle some of the many complex issues that are raised by this study. However this report should also be seen as a resource that other organisations across the city can use to understand the key health issues faced in their local area.”

Work on the strategy began earlier last year during a women’s health conference that was hosted at City Hall, with organisations around the city coming to share ideas and concerns around the issue.

Penny Gane, Chair of Bristol Women’s Commission said: “This year we are celebrating the centenary of some women getting the vote and women being able to stand for public office. One of the suffragettes’ demands was better health care for women. One hundred years later we are drawing attention to women’s health needs in Bristol in this illuminating report and working towards a strategy to address them. Some might say this is long overdue.”

The full report can be read on the council’s website.