Women more likely to have symptoms ignored by the NHS28 Sep 2022 | Tahsin Choudhury
An increasing number of women in the UK feel brushed off by GPs when presenting with real symptoms, with many feeling like they must push and persuade healthcare professionals for a valid diagnosis. This can lead to years of suffering with pain and disruptive symptoms without any pain relief or treatment. This has been reported in the press.
One condition in which delayed diagnoses are extremely prevalent in is endometriosis, which is where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus appears elsewhere in the body and causes bleeding and ongoing pain. Unfortunately, women presenting with symptoms of endometriosis are often dismissed and told that these are side-effects of heavy periods, and then denied any further testing. This can sadly lead to a breakdown in a relationship between a patient and a GP, and leaves women feeling not listened to and with ongoing symptoms. It also leads to a notion of thought that women are inevitably going to suffer pain and should endure it without seeking help.
The Women’s Health Wales coalition seeks to resolve this and suggests that the healthcare system have a more focussed approach to women’s health in medical training, and for information to be disseminated by each protected characteristic so that no patient’s symptoms go ignored. For example, black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in childbirth.
Women also often suffer from anxiety when attending GP appointments and anticipate that their GP won’t listen to them. Girls as young as 11 years old will present with symptoms of serious conditions similar to menstrual periods to their GP’s and be told to put up with this pain or will even be belittled for having a low pain threshold. These can be serious and debilitating conditions such as endometriosis and haemorrhaging, which can often get much worse with no further investigation and treatment.
Women are also not able to have cervical cancer screenings until 25, and some women with symptoms will unfortunately be denied early screenings on request, leaving cancer undiagnosed and untreated, and not appropriately referred to gynaecologists as early as possible. This has contributed to NHS waiting lists increasing by 60% to over 500,000 patients waiting to be seen for conditions such as endometriosis, prolapse and heavy bleeding. As these health problems are non-cancerous, they are described as “benign”, contributing to the attitude that women’s conditions are not taken seriously as these conditions can be seriously debilitating despite being “benign”. Terminology changes would be a small adjustment on the way to massive improvement for women’s health.
Another worrying issue is that many women experiencing heart attacks are told that they are having panic attacks. Gemma Roberts, policy and public affairs manager at British Heart Foundation Cymru and co – chair of Women’s Health Wales Coalition says
“We hear from patients and from clinicians that women have to see their GPs multiple times before they get a diagnosis. Women often aren’t listened to.
They are told that pain is a normal part of the female experience but actually that isn’t the case. I think we need to be listening to women more about what’s going on with their own bodies.
The Welsh government’s quality statement on women and girls’ health acknowledges, “women’s gendered reporting of lived experience and symptoms can be undervalued, overlooked or dismissed”
The Welsh Government says
‘The health minister has published a new quality statement setting out what is expected of the NHS in Wales in relation to all aspects of women’s health. We have also launched a survey asking women for their views and opinions about their health, which will help inform a women’s health plan to be published later this year. We have received thousands of responses so far.”
Changes need to be made, patients need to be listened to and symptoms assessed and managed accordingly. Otherwise, women will just not seek medical help and advice and this will lead to missed/delayed diagnosis and a possible increase in serious medical conditions being completely undiagnosed with serious consequences for some patients.
If you have been affected by similar matters and would like to speak to the medical negligence department, contact Tahsin or complete the online enquiry form below.
Contact Tahsin today
For a free initial conversation call 0207 485 8811
Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you
Stephanie has developed a particularly strong reputation for her handling of birth injury claims, as well as cases concerning surgical negligence and delays in surgery.
"An excellent firm which achieves fantastic outcomes for clients."
"Stephanie Prior takes on complex cases and gets excellent results. She has a background in medicine which serves her clients well and is a realistic but tough litigator."
"Stephanie Prior is hugely dedicated, adored by her clients, tenacious, efficient and extremely knowledgeable."
"Stephanie Prior is very good with troubled clients and is easily able to make them feel at ease."
"Stephanie shows sensitivity and deals with things in an understanding way."
Osbornes provides a very intimate and personal client service which is increasingly rare in this sector.
The lawyers in the team are highly experienced and will drive cases very hard on behalf of their clients.
"Stephanie Prior has a realistic attitude to the complexities of the cases. She wins the trust of her clients and goes the extra mile to ensure they get the best outcomes."
"Stephanie Prior... manages a varied caseload, including obstetric claims, child and adult brain injury cases and fatal and non-fatal spinal cord injury cases."
"Stephanie is experienced, knowledgeable of all aspects of clinical negligence work, and strategic in running cases."
"The team were extremely professional in putting my needs first. There was a joined-up approach to catering for the client, and all lawyers involved were briefed and constructive."
Stephanie Prior is always very professional and kind. Highly recommended.
Quite simply excellent, with a highly competent and well-rounded team. They understand complex medical litigation and have been our lifesavers, and we will always owe them our immense gratitude.
Related InsightsVIEW ALL
Late Cancer Diagnosis Crisis Within NHS
The Health and Social Care Committee recently released a 52-page report on cancer services, expanding on the crisis in England (...Read more
Women from ethnic minorities experience worse maternity care
It has been reported today that the government has set up a new task force to look into why there...Read more