Earlier this year Andrew Jones MP met several constituents living with endometriosis at his regular constituency advice clinic. They told him of the difficulties they had had with the condition and with getting diagnosed too.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. The condition is estimated to affect 1.5 million women in the UK with symptoms including extreme abdominal pain.
Andrew took the cases up with ministers highlighting the need for investment in research, a reduction in diagnosis time and timely access to appropriate NHS treatment.
Yesterday, to support his constituents, Andrew attended a Westminster Hall debate on endometriosis to hear directly about the condition from colleagues who had suffered or were suffering from it. The debate came after a petition to Parliament garnered over 100,000 signatures.
Andrew commented: “I had intended to speak in the debate but I felt it was more important to learn from women with direct experience of endometriosis so that I can better represent the needs of my constituents.
“There were some powerful contributions. I was particularly grateful to colleagues for highlighting the lack of awareness of the condition among GPs and medical professionals which goes some way to explaining the long time – often many years – it takes to receive a formal diagnosis.
“The report of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Endometriosis highlighted the lack of investment in this area of women’s health which underlines the fact that we still do not have a definitive cause for it.”
In responding to the debate, Maria Caulfield MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Patient Safety and Primary Care, confirmed that the government was funding research into endometriosis.
She said: “The National Institute for Health Research has funded £8.52 million of endometriosis research. There is a £2 million trial on peritoneal endometriosis, looking at surgery versus non-surgical interventions to manage chronic pain. There is a study of endometriosis in primary care and the experience of both GPs and patients to see what is going wrong at the diagnosis stage. A practical toolkit has been put together to help patients and clinicians.”
Mr Jones concluded: “In addition to highlighting the great work that is being done I was grateful for the minister’s frankness when she acknowledged that diagnosis times are unacceptable as are the number of appointments it takes with a GP to reach a diagnosis. These are key areas that our health system needs to address and we start that process by recognising that there is a problem.”