At NICE, we’re celebrating the theme #InspireInclusion as we mark International Women’s Day 2024.

From our reception staff to our technical analysts, chair and CEO, we’re an organisation driven by women from all backgrounds to create useful and useable evidence-based healthcare guidance, reflecting our commitment to inclusivity and collaboration.

As of March 2024, women constitute 68.4% of our workforce, and at executive team level this stands at 58.3%, showcasing diversity and equity at all levels of our organisation.

With women’s health occupying a prominent place on the national agenda, especially amid England's 10-year women's health strategy, we recently consolidated our guidance on women's and reproductive health, streamlining access to essential information in one place.

Meet two of the women involved in NICE's committees

Dr Chimwemwe Kalumbi, Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, and vice chair of NICE's women's and reproductive health suite committee

I'm Chim, I’ve been a consultant in the NHS since 2014 and am currently leading an Early Pregnancy Unit, as well as serving as the divisional research lead for the women’s and children unit.

As vice chair of the Women’s and Reproductive Health Suite, I facilitate committees providing advisory insights to NICE’s board, guiding the development and updating of guidelines in the Women’s and Reproductive Health Suite.

My passion lies in global women’s health. Given alarming maternal health disparities worldwide, my involvement in NICE committees offers an opportunity to address such inequalities, especially for women from marginalised backgrounds, who we know are statistically more likely to have worse outcomes, and even die during pregnancy. Coming from a black ethnic background sitting on the NICE committee gives me the opportunity to contribute towards improving care and pregnancy outcomes in these women.

I’ve been privileged to contribute towards the review and update of the following guidelines, fetal monitoring in labour, intrapartum care for healthy women and babies and ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management just to mention a few. I know that through this work, I’ve helped ensure that the guideline review process considers the disparities in maternal health outcomes.

Developing and producing a clinical guideline is one thing, ensuring that the guideline is implementable is another. This is where, as clinicians on the ground our knowledge and experience provide insight to the committee on some of the challenges in the implementation pathway.

Inclusiveness to me means tackling persistent disparities underlying maternal mortality within the health systems from a strategic and policy making level, to the clinician on the ground. Every pregnant woman deserves a positive experience and outcome, and no woman should die from avoidable and preventable causes.

Munira Oza, Director of the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and lay member of NICE's women and reproductive health suite

I’m Munira, and I’m the Director of The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust (EPT). I have personally experienced both ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage and my role with EPT involves supporting women, people, and families who are affected by pregnancy loss and complications.

The committee provides input on NICE’s guidelines across a range of women and reproductive health topics, spanning conditions that start in puberty through to menopause. This includes fertility and pregnancy and the topic group for which I am member, early pregnancy. Most recently I’ve been involved with updating NICE’s guidance on ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. This involved reviewing new recommendations on practical aspects - such as what doctors should look out for on scans and miscarriage treatment. As well as overall consideration of recommendations, I have assisted with specific points from the patient’s view, for example what to look out for following discharge and when and how to seek further medical assistance.

At the start of this role, I had a touch of imposter syndrome, with so many clinical experts around the table! However, committee colleagues have been very welcoming and keen to hear the patient’s perspective. Often, the committee chair or other participants expressly refer a particular point for my input and the views I reflect feel very valued. Any nervousness I had at the outset quickly vanished.

To me “Inspire inclusion” means learning and working together to tackle discrimination and biases head-on. This includes asking and actively listening to affected groups. NICE’s public involvement programme aims to put that into practice.

Vanessa on inspiring inclusion

As we continue to update and prioritise guidance at NICE, it remains paramount we ensure women are central to our work. Their perspectives, experiences and needs must continually inform and shape our efforts to promote inclusivity and equity in healthcare.

Together, let's inspire inclusion and forge a future where every woman receives the care and support they deserve.

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