#ChooseToChallenge

Image of person holding card which reads "We challenge you". Overlay text of #choosetochallenge , international women's day 2021
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Happy International Women’s Day 2021! This years theme is Choose to Challenge.

I read this article recently which stated that the government was finally tackling the gender health gap and its investigation beginning would coincide with International Women’s Day 2021.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I snorted with laughter when I read it. Maybe I’m just incredibly jaded because of how I’ve been treated by our healthcare system? Maybe I’m a realist and know there’s no point getting my hopes up?

Something I’ve noticed in the last couple of years is endometriosis has become a buzzword, especially during awareness month. Then you hear nothing about endometriosis for the other eleven months of the year. It’s almost like it gets mentions for a month and every person with endometriosis is placated, feels seen, and then carries on suffering in silence with nothing having changed.

Imagine my surprise when I read the government statement and the main “little-known health condition” they highlighted was endometriosis.

Tony Stark eyeroll gif.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Endometriosis (which was set up in 2018) has already done a lot of research into the struggles people with endometriosis deal with regularly. In fact, in March 2020 I shared a post on Facebook reminding people to complete the APPG survey as the 31st March was the last day to complete it.

The APPG on Endometriosis released a report which had the following key recommendations:
1. A commitment to drive down diagnosis times
2. Ensure access to appropriate care
3. Awareness
4. Investment in research.

Unfortunately, the APPG’s are all cross-party, informal groups that don’t have an official status within Parliament.

If the government can acknowledge in their statement that endometriosis is a little-known health condition, why haven’t they looked at the APPG findings? I mean, it’s a pretty good starting point.

The government, regardless of who is in power, will always be reactive when they should be proactive. They had an opportunity to be proactive and make changes to the care that people with endometriosis receive and they squandered it.

I do have reasons why I’m doubtful that any meaningful change will happen:

  1. The diagnosis time for endometriosis has now increased to 8 years.
  2. Women aren’t believed when we go to the doctor. I visited the doctor multiple times from age 15 to age 18 with period issues. Every time I was told my issues were down to puberty. I started my period when I was 11 so I must have been in puberty for a longer time than most.
  3. The gender pay gap still exists – they’ve not exactly done a great job of stamping that out. Why should we believe they’ll stamp out the gender bias in healthcare?
  4. If the government can’t give the NHS more than a 1% pay increase, I doubt they’ll have the money to make all the necessary changes. To make real change, they will need to invest a significant amount of money into the NHS. The government can’t even honour the 2.1% pay increase for the NHS staff which was agreed in 2019.

This time, I’m not going to be placated and then go back in my box for another 11 months. I am not going to suffer in silence, and right now I am suffering.

As the theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is Choose to Challenge. I choose to challenge the government to do better for ALL women. To not only commit to following through with it but also commit whatever funds are needed to make it happen.

If you want to complete the survey, it can be found here: https://consultations.dhsc.gov.uk/talkwomenshealth

I’d urge you to complete it because your voice should be heard, especially if you’ve not had the best care previously. Who knows, maybe they’ll do something this time? I’m a jaded optimist it would appear.

Let me know your thoughts on the Women’s Health Strategy in the comments.

Take care,
Lis


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