WAITING lists for gynaecology treatment across the UK have reached a combined figure of over 570,000 women, with a 60 per cent increase on pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
The report also highlights that gynaecology waiting lists in England have grown the most in percentage terms of all elective specialties, with the number of women waiting over a year for care having increased from 66 before the pandemic to nearly 25,000.
A survey conducted by the RCOG of 837 women awaiting gynaecology care highlights the “devastating impact”, with 80 per cent saying their mental health has worsened due to the wait and 77 per cent saying that their ability to work or take part in social activities had been negatively impacted. Over 61 per cent said they felt despair at the long waits and 63 per cent described "feeling ignored".
Rebecca Sloan, Women’s health lead at LCP Health Analytics (which conducted the data analysis), commented: "The pandemic has exacerbated already large waiting lists for women needing gynaecology treatment across the country, with gynaecology waiting lists increasing at one of the fastest rates of all specialities between April 2018 and February 2020, and since the pandemic the waiting list has continued to increase at the highest rate of all other specialities. While waiting lists show the amount of people currently waiting, they don’t show the true scale because there are many people who have health issues but have not yet come forward for treatment due to the pandemic."
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "Hundreds of thousands of women with gynaecological conditions across the UK are being forced to tolerate extreme pain and debilitating symptoms because of unacceptable waiting lists for diagnosis and treatment.
"We believe the reason gynaecology waiting lists have seen the biggest growth is because time and again we see women’s health consistently deprioritised and overlooked. At its core it is gender bias and it’s reflective of society as a whole. Women are being let down and change is urgently needed.
"The RCOG is calling for an overhaul of the way the NHS prioritises treatment, looking beyond clinical need recognising the suffering of these women. The NHS must take meaningful action to ensure that those on waiting lists are given priority based on the impact that their conditions are having on their quality of life as a whole – especially as we emerge from the pandemic."