Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
Endometriosis is a common condition that affects as many as 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Although some women might not have any noticeable symptoms of the condition, I have heard from others that have suffered significant symptoms and impact on their quality of life.
Last year, following a report by Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales (FTWW), the Chief Executive of the NHS in Wales established a Task and Finish Group to review endometriosis services in Wales.
The Group, chaired by consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Richard Penketh, was made up of a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, academics and patients. It considered many sources of data, including recent NICE guidelines and research as well as new evidence produced in Wales.
I wish to express my thanks to all members of the group for their hard work in the preparation of their report, which I am pleased to publish today. This report is the start of a process that will improve the lives of women in Wales affected by endometriosis. Additionally, it highlights the benefits of collective working between clinicians and patient groups to achieve a positive outcome.
The report describes a lack of understanding of endometriosis among some health professionals and how current provision fails to meet the level of need. This has caused delays in diagnosis and sub-optimal clinical care on some occasions, with a consequent impact on the quality of life of users of these services.
The Group make a number of recommendations to improve endometriosis services and provide better outcomes for women. This includes raising awareness among health professionals and promoting education around menstrual well-being.
Health boards have a responsibility to deliver high quality gynaecology services and it is vital they provide a robust and effective pathway, including early diagnosis, for the management of endometriosis. My officials have written to health boards seeking assurance that they are operating their services so they deliver the NICE guidance on endometriosis.
It is important that serious health issues affecting women are dealt with effectively and appropriately. For this reason, I have directed the recently established Women’s Health Implementation Group, chaired by Tracy Myhill, Chief Executive of ABMU Health Board, to consider all the recommendations in this report alongside its work on vaginal mesh and tape.
The Women’s Health Implementation Group will provide strategic leadership to ensure an all-Wales approach to break down barriers and join up pathways between primary, secondary and tertiary care, so women’s health is managed in the community wherever possible, with minimal need for intervention.