Women's Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:20 pm on 10th June 1988.

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Photo of Mr John Hughes Mr John Hughes , Coventry North East 1:20 pm, 10th June 1988

I am most grateful for this opportunity to contribute to the debate. Having had to wait to speak for so long, I feel that I am suffering from what could accurately be diagnosed as "manopause."

Due to the effect of Government policies, there exists what I would describe as a Dorian Gray health service. Its looks bear little reality to health in general and to the many specialist areas of health care that are so important to women—none more so than primary care in the home.

It is a fact that all the knowledge gained from many health surveys has established that in areas of deprivation where there is high unemployment the physical and mental health of families is considerably worse than that of families in employment. Until recently, however, direct evidence that unemployment causes poorer health was not available. There is now substantial evidence that unemployment causes a deterioration in both physical and mental health.

Although the well-established pattern of women having lower death rates than men but experiencing higher sickness rates still holds true, recent studies have shown that the position is far more complex. Women's health varies according to social class, employment and marital status in ways that are only just beginning to be understood. The health of working-class women is particularly poor.

Striking regional disparities in health can still be observed. What is becoming increasingly clear from fresh evidence are the great inequalities that exist between communities living side by side in the same region. Numerous studies at local authority ward level have pinpointed pockets of poor health that correspond to areas of social and material deprivation. Alongside them, areas with much better health profiles can be detected and they exhibit more affluent characteristics.