WOMEN in Bradford are being given a say on how to shape health services by getting involved with a new network that will influence and inform decision-makers.

People empowerment organisation C-Net has been commissioned by NHS Bradford City and Bradford District Clinical Commission Groups to create a new women's health network that will be up and running by September this year.

Tracy Higgins is the co-ordinator of a small project team tasked with the job of developing it by tapping in to women's expertise and experience of local health services.

Information gathered through the network will be directly fed back to the CCGs to help them identify any gaps in current services and fill them. It will also be able to help new services be developed to meet local needs.

"Women play a critical role not just in their own health and well-being but also for their children and husbands," Mrs Higgins said.

"They have a lot of expertise and experience that we want to tap into.

"We want to hear from them about the services they use and why they don't use others, which ones are working well, which ones aren't and how those services can be better provided.

"We want to hear about any barriers that stop them accessing current services. We know we can do more to improve the uptake of such services like breast and cervical screening and the uptake of immunisations."

A number of events and workshops open to all women will be organised in the run up to September to decide how the network will look and work and what its goals will be.

The first is on Tuesday, March 15, at at Carlisle Business Centre, Carlisle Road, from 9.30am until 12.45pm. A free lunch will be provided. To book a place call CNet on 01274 305045.

Mrs Higgins said: "This is a real opportunity for women in Bradford to help design this network, to decide what it will be called and how it will work. It's all open at the moment. It's very fluid."

The team is keen to involve all women in the project but particularly those who are not already engaged in health services, from women experiencing domestic abuse to women working on the streets or new migrants.

They will go out and speak to them in their own environments to encourage them to come and get involved in what will be Bradford's first women's network.

The team also wants to work with organisations that work with women to make the most of the resources they can offer to the community.

"There's lot of work to be done to make sure women get all the information they need to keep themselves, family and friends healthy. Together we can do all this," said Mrs Higgins.