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Health | Provision of health services for women

To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which women’s health specifically remains central to the provision and delivery of a reliable level and quality of health services in all areas throughout Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Progressing women’s health is a priority for myself and for this Government. We made a strong commitment to Promoting Women’s Health in the Programme for Government 2020 and are fully committed to the continued development and improvement of women’s health services and to working with women and girls to improve their health and experiences of healthcare across the whole life cycle.

Underscoring our commitment to women’s health was the establishment of a Women’s Health Taskforce in September 2019 to improve both health outcomes and experiences of healthcare for women and girls. The Women’s Health Taskforce continues to work with the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the European Institute of Women’s Health to prioritise different issues each year with the aim of improving women’s health outcomes and experiences. Critical to this work is the process of listening to women – the Taskforce has so far listened to, engaged with and worked with thousands of women and hundreds of organisations representing women and girls across the country and commits to continued listening.

The Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-23 was published on 8 March 2022, marking International Women’s Day. The Action Plan identifies key actions to improve health outcomes and experiences for women in Ireland. It provides the foundation to address women’s whole health and help ensure that action on women’s health looks beyond reproductive health to make a real difference to women’s lives.

Prioritisation of women’s health is further supported through the significant investment contained within Budget 2022 and 2023,which allocated €31m and €69.2m respectively in funding for new developments in Women’s Health. This includes:


  • €8.66 million additional funding for the National Maternity Strategy.
  • €9 million to fund access to free contraception for women aged 17-25.
  • €5.3 million to grow access to “see and treat” gynaecology clinics; specialist menopause clinics; and specialist endometriosis services.
  • €1.34 million to support initial establishment of a perinatal genetics service.
  • €0.71m investment in tackling period poverty for the first time.
  • €0.54million to establish an expert Obstetric Event Support Team to support services and sites that report severe maternity incidents
  • €0.25m additional investment in Sexual Assault Treatment Units.
  • €10m Women’s Health Fund, supporting implementation of key priorities for women’s health.
  • 2023:
  • €11.7 million to provide access to publicly funded IVF treatment.
  • Elimination of VAT on HRT and period products.
  • Expansion of the Free Contraception Scheme to cover women aged 30 and under.
  • €10million investment in the Women’s Health Fund to continue support for women’s health priority areas.
  • €0.9m investment in the development of Women’s Health Hubs, for the holistic provision of women’s healthcare.

Prioritisation of women’s health in our service provision is seen in the completed and ongoing work happening to improve healthcare for women across the country. There have been a number of key developments since the establishment of the Women’s Health Taskforce and the Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-23. 

  • Contraception: A scheme to provide      free contraception to women aged 17-25 was launched successfully on 14      September 2022 and was expanded to include 26-year-olds on 1 January 2023.      Budget 2023 has allocated funding to support the scheme and work is      underway expand it to women under 30 in 2023. 
  • Menopause: 6 Specialist Menopause Clinics to treat      complex symptoms of Menopause, with 5/6 clinics currently open and      operational. A GP Quick Reference Guide on Menopause was launched in October      2022 to support primary care practitioners in treating menopause and      referring patients to Specialist Clinics. The first National Menopause      Awareness Campaign (Radio, Online, Print, TV) was launched by the      Department of Health to raise awareness and “lift the taboo” around      menopause. was launched as a      one-stop shop for information about menopause and its symptoms as well as      advice on proactive management. Removal of VAT from HRT in Budget 2023.
  • Fertility: 6 Regional      Fertility Hubs are being established to provided tailored, low-level      intervention for patients with fertility issues. Investment to support      publicly-fund Assisted Human Reproduction has also been allocated and will      see the first National Advanced AHR Centre established. 
  • Gynaecology: A network of 21 “see and treat” ambulatory gynaecology clinics are in      development, where an estimated 70% of general gynaecology referrals are      suitable for management. 12 Ambulatory Gynae      Clinics are currently open and operational, with additional clinics in      development. The national network      will improve access to services and help to reduce the requirement for      multiple gynaecology appointments, ensuring sustainability of service      provision into the future given the significant waiting lists for this      specialty; and will, ultimately, help improve clinical outcomes.
  • Endometriosis: Delivering two,      first-of-their-kind, Specialist Endometriosis Centres for complex care      located in Cork University Maternity Hospital and Tallaght University      Hospital. A National Framework for Endometriosis care is being developed,      which sets out for the first time a defined clinical care pathway for      women with endometriosis. In 2022, the Women’s Health Fund invested in five additional interdisciplinary teams to support holistic treatment of      endometriosis within the maternity networks. These will form a network of      regional endometriosis hub services that will co-ordinate care within      their respective Hospital Groups and support the complex services in      Tallaght and Cork.
  • Maternity: €8.66m was      allocated to the National Maternity Strategy in 2022, providing for      further development of community midwifery services, expansion of      breastfeeding supports, improved access to allied and specialised services      and strengthened training and education supports for staff. This      investment is also improving the infrastructure of our maternity services      by providing additional home-from-home birthing suites and upgrades to      theatres and wards. 
  • Mental Health: The Women’s      Health Fund provided investment in 2022 to support a range of services for      women and girls, including digital mental health services access,      improving perinatal mental health supports, enhancing specialist eating      disorder supports, providing targeted mental health supports for      marginalised women and women in addiction and responding to the needs of      young girls at risk of developing psychosis. 
  • The Women’s Health      Fund has invested in a range of service areas, responding to the needs of women in      year. Areas include cancer screening and immunisation, primary care      supports, maternity services and postnatal hubs, gynaecology, mental      health and supports for marginalised groups. 
  • Period Poverty: Removal of VAT from period products in Budget 2023. Funding      of €714,000 was allocated for period poverty initiatives in Budget 2022, this      funding was then increased in 2023 to €814,000. This funding supports      period dignity measures rolled out in partnership with the HSE, local      authorities and NGOs. The Healthy Ireland Survey, 2022, included a module      on menstrual health and period poverty, finding that 51% of women      currently having periods experience disruption to participating in daily      life (work, school, sports, social events) as a result of symptoms, and      that 24% have experience of period poverty.

In the longer-term, through a population health approach championed in the Sláintecare report, we will be planning services around the health and social care needs of our entire population. Factors that will inform this include age, socioeconomic status, disability status, health care utilisation patterns, ethnicity, and gender. The insights gained from this will form an evidence base that will inform future service planning, workforce planning, review of eligibility, and capital planning. The service needs of women will be considered as part of all this.

Implementation of the services listed above represents significant development and advancement for women’s health nationwide, but this remains a work in progress. I am committed to the full implementation of the Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-23 and will continue to drive progress in all areas of women’s health to fulfil its mandate into the future.


Dept of Health


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