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Gynecology waiting lists rise 60 per cent as health leader warns NHS ‘bias’ affects women

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Gynecology waiting lists rise 60 per cent as health leader warns NHS ‘bias’ affects women

  • Waiting lists in the UK reached more than 570,000 . in December 2021
  • dr. Edward Morris says ‘we need to change the language’ around gynecology
  • Government launches new health strategy to tackle gender inequality

Gynecology waiting lists are up 60 percent as doctors dismiss women’s problems as “benign,” warns a health leader.

dr. Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said conditions such as endometriosis, prolapse and heavy bleeding are called “benign” but can be life-limiting and progressive.

He told the Guardian: ‘We need to change the language. We have to call it what it is.’ Waiting lists in this area have increased more than in any other area in the past two years.

The number waiting more than a year for care in England has risen from 66 to nearly 25,000, with 1,300 waiting two years.

The UK government will launch a new women’s health strategy later this year to tackle gender inequalities in health

The comments of Dr. Morris are ahead of the launch of the government’s women’s health strategy for England, expected later this year, which ministers say will aim to eliminate ‘decades of gender inequality in health’.

The strategy is expected to include a focus on gynecological issues, fertility and menopause.

dr. Morris called for the creation of specialist gynecology clinics in the UK to be included – the equivalent of GP surgeries, but dedicated to women’s health.

Analysis by College revealed that UK gynecology waiting lists reached more than 570,000 women in December last year – just over 60 per cent more than before the pandemic and the largest percentage increase of all choice specialties.

Conditions such as endometriosis, prolapse and heavy bleeding are termed 'benign' but can be severely life-limiting

Conditions such as endometriosis, prolapse and heavy bleeding are termed ‘benign’ but can be severely life-limiting

dr. Morris said: ‘There is a perception in many areas of the NHS that if there is a benign gynecologic surgery list, it is a list that can be cancelled.

“Nobody with cancer will suffer.”

However, if left untreated, conditions such as endometriosis and prolapse can get worse, severely impact quality of life and affect fertility.

dr. Morris, a gynecologist with the Norfolk and Norwich University NHS Hospital Trust, said his own hospital no longer used the term “benign gynecology” and instead organized teams based on the type of surgery performed, such as endometriosis surgery, laparoscopy and urogynaecology .

He urges other funds to do the same.

Gynecologists have expressed concern about a marked increase in emergency admissions, including women with heavy menstrual bleeding requiring blood transfusions for severe anemia, women with ruptured cysts and women with acute pain.

Some women have crossed the age limit for IVF on the NHS, while awaiting surgery to take place before fertility treatment.

dr. Morris said more money should also be spent on research into women’s health problems, such as the biological underlying symptoms of menopause.

“There is a fundamental lack of research into women’s health,” he said.

“Because there’s a bit of shame, stigma and silence about some gynecological conditions, that seeps through quite a bit in some of the research.”

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