Gynaecology waiting lists continue to grow, MPs told at Westminster Hall Debate
6 July 2022
MPs today debated the ongoing growth of gynaecology waiting lists across the UK. New data from LCP Health Analytics, presented at the debate, shows that gynaecology waiting lists in the UK continue to grow, reaching nearly 610,000 women as of March 2022. This is now just over a 69% increase since pre-pandemic levels.
A report published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in April revealed that gynaecology waiting lists reached over 570,000 women by December 2021. This was a 60% increase since pre-pandemic levels.
In England, the number of women waiting over a year for care is at its highest point ever in gynaecology. This has increased from just 66 women in February 2020 to over 28,800 at the end of April 2022, leaving women living with symptoms including extreme pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and incontinence for far longer than they should.
A survey conducted by the RCOG of over 800 women who have experience of waiting for gynaecology care revealed that 80% of women felt their mental health has worsened due to the wait, and more than three quarters (77%) of women said their ability to work or take part in social activities has been negatively impacted.
During the debate, Emma Hardy, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, which is one of the worst affected areas in England, said: "These conditions are not benign, and they can't wait. Benign suggests there's no harm in delaying treatment, but this is emphatically not the case.
“There is an undeniable problem of the health service's attitude - in some places - to women's health where it involves reported symptoms and the voices of patients themselves”
During the debate, Feryal Clark Labour MP, Shadow Minister for Primary Care and Patient Safety, said: “Too often women's health is pigeonholed as niche and a subsection of health care. The idea that gynaecological conditions are manageable for long periods of time and can be deprioritised as a result is not acceptable.”
Rebecca Sloan, Women’s Health Lead at LCP, commented:“The state of gynaecology waiting lists is really concerning and that's without even taking account of the long term impact of the pandemic. There are many people who have health issues but have not yet come forward for treatment. 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. This would lead to many more women living with sometimes debilitating pain and discomfort.”
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “It is very concerning to see the number of women on waiting lists rising, including the number of women who are waiting over a year for their care. Hundreds of thousands of women with painful gynaecological conditions across the UK are being forced to tolerate debilitating symptoms because of these unacceptable waiting times.
“We need to see a change in the way the gynaecology is perceived and prioritised in the NHS. Currently the severe impact on quality of life for women is not considered, where many are living with symptoms that prevent them from socialising, working, and have impacted their relationships and family lives.
“In the upcoming Women’s Health Strategy, the Government must prioritise gynaecology by committing to sustained investment into the recovery and provision of gynaecological services.”