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NHS issues further guidance on women’s health hubs

NHS issues further guidance on women’s health hubs
By Beth Gault
23 April 2024

NHS England has issued clarity on the set up of women’s health hubs in a letter to ICB chief executives.

By the end of July 2024, ICBs will be expected to have at least one women’s health hub operational and providing clinical support against at least two core services (see box below), according to the letter. By December 2024, they are expected to have at least one hub triaging against all core services from the core specification.

The priorities and operational planning guidance, published in March, said NHS England was working to ensure at least 75% of ICBs had a hub in place by July 2024 that ‘meets the minimum requirements’.

This new letter, published 22 April, said: ‘Hubs do not have to be a building or specific place; they may employ digital resources to provide virtual triage or consultations, or alternatively they may make use of existing facilities, for example GP surgeries or community centres.

‘A website, other forms of digital signposting, or engagement events / awareness raising alone do not qualify as a women’s health hub as they do not provide health services.’

It added that funding of a pre-existing service without expansion of services or population reached ‘does not qualify as a new or expanded hub against either target’.

However, it said that each hub does not have to cover the entire population of the ICB.

‘Those core services can be provided virtually (i.e. patient consultations in online, telephone and/or video format, 1:1 or in a group),’ it said. ‘However, in order to meet the definition and aims of a hub in the core specification, the ICB would need to have clear plans for incorporating in-person delivery of services into their model by December 2024.’


NHS England added that the second instalment of funding for the hubs would be delivered this month (April), after the first part was issued in 2023/24.

Each ICB is receiving £595,000 in total to set up women’s health hubs.

It said: ‘We have prioritised this investment in hubs given their importance in improving access to services and reducing health inequalities by bringing together healthcare professionals and integrating existing services.

‘As described in the 2024/25 revenue finance and contracting guidance, the funding allocated to each ICB for hubs must be spent only for this purpose and any ICB underspend against this funding will be adjusted for in month 12 2024/25. Each ICB is encouraged to make full use of their funding allocation to accelerate progress, noting that they will not be expected to incur costs implementing a model that is not recurrently affordable.’

Reporting data

The letter said ICBs would be required to feedback monthly and quarterly data on the hubs to NHS England until March 2025, with the first monthly reporting due by 31 May 2024 and quarterly collection from July onwards.

It added that ICBs will be provided with information as to what data would be required for quarterly reporting ‘in due course’.

It said: ‘These returns will provide assurance against delivery targets and will inform the impact evaluation of the investment, which the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is commissioning.

‘ICBs women’s health champions were involved in the development of the monthly and quarterly data collection, and their feedback has helped us ensure the information requested is achievable and, in many cases, already in process of collection.’

The letter added that NHS England plans to publish hub collaborative commissioning guidance, which they will share with regional NHS England and ICB women’s health champions.

Core services for women’s health hubs

  • Menstrual problems assessment and treatment, including but not limited to care for heavy, painful or irregular menstrual bleeding, and care for conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Menopause assessment and treatment
  • Contraceptive counselling and provision of the full range of contraceptive methods including LARC fitting for both contraceptive and gynaecological purposes (for example, LARC for heavy menstrual bleeding and menopause), and LARC removal, and emergency hormonal contraception
  • Preconception care
  • Breast pain assessment and care
  • Pessary fitting and removal
  • Cervical screening
  • Screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV screening.

Source: DHSC

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