2018 WBG Briefing: Health and Gender

Date Posted: Monday 15th October 2018

October 2018


Ahead of the 2018 Autumn Budget, we’ve put together a briefing on the impact of changes in health policy on women.

View and download the full briefing here.

Key points:


  • Over the last decade health services have seen some of the lowest spending increases in their history. In June 2018, the government announced an additional £20bn in real terms for the NHS in England in the five years to 2023/24.
  • While the amounts proposed in June are significantly higher than funding increases over the past eight years, this is still below the historical 3.7% average annual rise that the NHS has seen since 1948 and below the 4% annual increase that the Kings Fund and others have argued is required to improve services after years of underfunding.
  • As a result, health services remain severely strained and women – as the majority of patients, staff and unpaid carers – have borne the brunt of these impacts. This has had a number of profound effects, including on life expectancy. Recent data shows that more older people, particularly older women, are dying than expected given historical trends.
  • Women account for 77% of the total NHS workforce. Between 2010 and 2018, NHS staff were under a 1% public sector pay cap that led to a decline in real wages of around 14%. In 2017, for the first time on record, more nurses were leaving than joining the profession, with the resultant shortfall impacting on patient care and outcomes. A new pay deal for “Agenda for Change” staff announced in March 2018 has yet to translate into the expected pay rises for some staff.

Written by Kate Bayliss, SOAS University of London