Report on women’s barriers to primary healthcare

Women’s voices on health. Addressing barriers to accessing primary care by Maternity Action and the Women’s Health and Equality Consortium (WHEC) was published in May 2014. The report is based on survey data of 300 women across the UK, as well as focus groups with BME women, asylum seeker and refugee women, women living with HIV, LGBT women and women with Learning Disabilities, and examines the barriers that women face when using GP services.

The findings include:

  • 69% of the women who had experienced domestic violence had not sought help from their GP, often due to a lack of trust in GPs ability to help.
  • Stigma and not being taken seriously were two of the main reasons why women with mental health problems had not sought help.
  • Prescription charges were a potential deterrent for 41% of survey respondents.
  • Focus groups for BME women suggested a lack of confidence in GPs ability to handle things like violence, constituting a barrier to getting help with issues relating to Female Genital Mutilation and other kinds of violence.
  • Women seeking asylum often experienced outright rejection and prejudice, as well as problems with inflexible registration processes.
  • Many women with HIV had encountered ignorance and prejudice from GPs. Confidentiality was another important concern.
  • Women with learning disabilities who had no entitlement to specialist provision reported serious issues relating to the accessibility of mainstream services.
  • LGBT women felt that health services were hetero-normative, and many reported negative reactions when disclosing their sexual orientation. For some, this was a deterrent to using GP services.

podcast discussing the report is available.