First Women's Health Strategy for England - implications for ectopic pregnancy care

20 Jul 2022 | By Munira

Ectopic pregnancy is a common condition within the fertility and pregnancy journey and is a condition within the wider field of women’s health. The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust submitted a response to the call for evidence for the Women’s Health Strategy, advocating for strategy on early pregnancy loss including ectopic pregnancy. We also took part in the Pregnancy Loss Review round-table discussions about certification for people who experience pregnancy loss before 24 weeks.

Released today, 20 July 2022, we are still in the process of reviewing the extensive Women’s Health Strategy policy paper and highlight a few key areas here.

One of the top commitments in the Strategy is: “improving care for women who experience pregnancy and baby loss…”. In addition, the Strategy’s ten-year ambitions include that: “girls and boys receive high-quality, evidence-based education from an early age on fertility, contraception and pregnancy planning, maternity care and pregnancy loss. These issues are no longer taboo subjects in any part of society.” We welcome this commitment and this ambition.

Today’s announcement has confirmed the introduction of a new pregnancy loss certificate in England. This certification would be available for recognising losses before 24 weeks gestation which would include ectopic pregnancy loss. Details are yet to be unveiled on when the registration process will start and how it will operate. The certification would be optional as it is very much a personal decision following an ectopic pregnancy. The Strategy states that the recording and issuing of a certificate is to provide comfort and support and, while not a legal document, will be an acknowledgement of pregnancy loss.

The EPT’s Director, Munira Oza comments: “As an ectopic pregnancy occurs so early, often before 12 weeks’ gestation, there is very little to remember our pregnancies and babies by. The option to certify will help many people in their recovery journeys by validating their experience and their loss.”

The Strategy also covered initiatives for commissioning research into healthcare professionals’ experiences of listening to women, with a focus on menstrual and gynaecological symptoms to ensure women’s voices are heard, and investment into research on women’s health issues including pregnancy loss. It also refers to introducing specific teaching on women’s health for all graduating medical students from 2024 to 2025 and for incoming doctors.

While specific information has not been provided on all the strategic areas as yet, we will continue to advocate for including ectopic pregnancy within the detail to drive forward improvements in care for women experiencing the condition.

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