‘The reason gynaecology waiting lists have seen the biggest growth is because time and again we see women’s health consistently deprioritised and overlooked,’ Dr Morris
More than half a million women are forced to wait for long periods to receive gynaecological care despite being in acute pain and suffering heavy bleeding, new research has found.
Studien, carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, found gynaecology waiting lists have seen the highest rise of all medical areas.
Researchers, who polled 837 women waiting for gynaecology care, funnet 80 per cent of women say their mental Helse has been harmed by waiting to be treated.
While one in four of those who struggled with their mental health as a result of their lengthy waiting time cited pain they were grappling with as a driver.
Just over three quarters of women noted their capacity to do their job or socialise with friends or family had been damaged by waiting for gynaecology treatment.
Around six in one women said she felt “despair” by being made to wait so long for treatment, samtidig som 63 per cent said they felt ignored.
Rachael, who is waiting to be seen by a gynaecologist, sa: “It was in 2019 that I first saw a gynaecologist for prolapse and was referred both to a pessary clinic and to a women’s health physio.
“Since then, I have had multiple pessaries that haven’t managed to alleviate the symptoms from the prolapse, and I was put on the waiting list for surgery before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. I have been waiting ever since.”
The 44-year-old, who lives in the North East, said she gets “mixed messages” every time she speaks to a consultant or staff at the hospital about when she will be given a slot for her surgery.
Rachael, who is grappling with symptoms from the perimenopause, la til: “I had to give up work last year because I just feel exhausted a lot of the time. I’m no longer interested in socialising unless I know I can sit down, or won’t be walking too far.
“I can’t even do gentle exercise without the pain that follows, it just aggravates it. I’m just trying to bring up two young kids, and keep physically well, and it makes everything so much harder. I feel like my whole life is on pause.”
Researchers noted 570,000 women in the UK are dealing with lengthy wait times for gynaecology appointments and treatment.
The proportion of women waiting over a year to be treated in England has surged from less than one in 1,000 women on the waiting list before the Covid crisis hit to now being more than one in 20.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has demanded the NHS “overhauls” how gynaecological care is run – “looking beyond clinical need and recognising the severe impact on quality of life”.
Dr Edward Morris, who is president of the college, sa: “Hundreds of thousands of women with gynaecological conditions across the UK are being forced to tolerate extreme pain and debilitating symptoms because of unacceptable waiting lists for diagnosis and treatment.
“As a consultant gynaecologist, I personally feel helpless speaking to women about the impact these waits are having on both their physical and mental health, and not being able to do anything to speed up their access to care.
“We believe the reason gynaecology waiting lists have seen the biggest growth is because time and again we see women’s health consistently deprioritised and overlooked. At its core, it is gender bias and it’s reflective of society as a whole.”
Dr Morris argued women are being failed and change is “urgently” required as he explained his organisation is demanding “an overhaul of the way the NHS prioritises treatment, looking beyond clinical need recognising the suffering of these women”.
Han la til: “The NHS must take meaningful action to ensure that those on waiting lists are given priority based on the impact that their conditions are having on their quality of life as a whole – especially as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Research carried out by LCP Health Analytics revealed gynaecology waiting lists have surged by 59 per cent to over 570,000 since the public health crisis hit the UK.
The report also unearthed extreme differences in treatment across England – with researchers warning of a “postcode lottery”. The North West was found to have as many as eight out of 10 of the most badly impacted Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Rebecca Sloan, women’s health lead at LCP Health Analytics, sa: “While waiting lists show the amount of people currently waiting, they don’t show the true scale because there are many people who have health issues but have not yet come forward for treatment due to the pandemic.
“This hidden health need is likely to overstretch an already pressured NHS if resources aren’t urgently diverted to the parts of the country where waiting times are at crisis point. There is the risk that thousands more women could be living with discomfort, pain and a real impact on their lives if action isn’t taken.”
A number of studies show women’s pain is often taken far less seriously than that of men. While research demonstrates women are not only forced to spend longer stretches of time waiting in emergency departments but are also less likely to be prescribed effective painkillers than men.