I founded the Cross Party Group on Women’s Health to shine a light on the impact that gender and inequalities has on women’s health and their ability to access healthcare and treatment. The aim of the group is to influence policymakers; empower women to make informed choices about their health; and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.
At the most recent meeting on Tuesday 18th September, we met to discuss Endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic and debilitating condition which affects 1 in 10 women worldwide. It is one of the most common gynaecological conditions in the UK, yet despite this many women experience a long and difficult journey to diagnosis – the average time being 7.5 years. Women report that their serious symptoms are disregarded as ‘just period pains’.
Our fantastic speakers were Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK; Dionne McFarlane, an educator in this condition; and Katy Johnson, a journalist, endometriosis campaigner and founder of Endo Silence. I am delighted that the meeting will form part of Katy’s BBC Social documentary and spread awareness further still.
Emma spoke about Endometriosis UK’s wish to see three fully set up Endometriosis centres in Scotland; for Scotland to adopt the NICE guidelines; and for menstrual wellbeing to be added to the school curriculum.
Katy and Dionne spoke movingly about their personal experiences of endometriosis. Their stories had much in common, from the long awaited diagnoses to feelings of not being believed.
I was pleased that so many people with personal experience of endometriosis attended, and was grateful to those who shared their stories.
The group agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman MSP, to raise with her the concerns of the group. I look forward to updating the group on the Cabinet Secretary’s response, and continuing the conversation at a CPG meeting next year.