In England, gynecology waiting lists have increased by 60% during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than any other specialty, according to BBC.
More than 570,000 women are waiting for gynecological care across the United Kingdom.
Patients were “consistently deprioritized and overlooked,” according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
The National Health Service (NHS) England said hospitals have been making progress in dealing with the COVID backlog, with average waiting times for elective treatment coming down.
The RCOG has called for much greater attention to women’s views and for care to be designed around their needs.
Although problems with gynecology did not start with the pandemic, it made things worse. In February 2020, the gynecology waiting list in England was 286,008. In January 2022, it has increased to 456,938.
Before the pandemic, around 66 patients were waiting for gynecological care for more than a year. But now, that has increased to almost 25,000.
It is clear that gynecology waiting lists are growing across the UK. Unfortunately, most of these gynecological conditions are progressive and can potentially need more aggressive treatment if delayed or untreated.
Dr. Edward Morris, RCOG President, said he felt helpless not being able to boost access to gynecological care for women and those on his waiting lists.
He said, “There is an element of gender bias in the system. I don’t think that we are listening to voices of women as well as we should be. The priority they urgently need is not being given to them.”
A Royal College survey of about 830 women on waiting lists found that 8 out of 10 reported mental health issues. In addition, the survey found that 77% said their gynecological condition was stopping them from being able to work or socialize as normal.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has predicted that numbers could increase between 7 million and 12 million in the next few years.
People with life-threatening conditions should receive care on a priority basis. However, Dr. Morris wants things to be “evened out across the NHS” so that gynecology is given the same focus as comparable specialties.
A spokesperson of NHS said, “NHS hospitals have treated over 640,000 patients with COVID, all while rolling out the biggest and fastest vaccination program in NHS history but backlogs have built up over the last two years since the pandemic started.
“However, staff are making progress on dealing with the Covid backlog with the latest data showing staff delivered more than half a million more tests, checks and procedures in January compared to the same month last year, while average waiting times for elective treatment are down by more than six weeks on their peak in the pandemic – so as has been the case throughout the pandemic, please come forward for care if you have any concerns.” The article was published today on BBC.