SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said the health service is failing the 10% of women across Northern Ireland suffering from endometriosis.
She was speaking after an Assembly question to Health Minister Robin Swann revealed there is only one Endometriosis Specialist Surgeon across all the Health and Social Care Trusts.
Ms McLaughlin said she was astounded at the lack of provision for care for those with the condition, which she herself has suffered from in the past.
The Foyle MLA said:
“According to the World Health Organisation Endometriosis affects one in 10 women and girls of a reproductive age. To put that into context, one in 10 people in Northern Ireland have asthma and yet many people haven’t even heard of Endometriosis. It is a condition which has a severe impact on women’s health, it can be excruciatingly painful, debilitating and can impact fertility.
“I am disgusted that the Department for Health continues to under resource women’s health, this latest revelation comes after we just learned that the Western Trust suspended family planning services for a period due to a massive backlog. It appears that women’s health continues to be left behind and spoken about in whispers.
“I myself suffered greatly with Endometriosis when I was younger. It often left me in severe pain and unable to move for days, yet I would count myself lucky because I was able to go on and have my two children, many women are denied this privilege.
“I am astounded that nearly 20 years on from my own experience we are no further forward with diagnosis and treatment. To have only one Endometriosis Specialist Surgeon across the entire health service to service 10% of women? It is not only implausible it is impossible. The Department of Health need to put major investment into women’s health and any stigma needs to be removed. Too often women are shamed into concealing these issues or not being believed in the first instance due to a lack of awareness often leading to late diagnosis and even longer waiting times for treatment.”