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Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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What progress has been made with the establishment of centres of excellence for the treatment of endometriosis. [103201]

The Government recognise that endometriosis affects the lives of many women and their families. Some specialist clinics treating advanced endometriosis have developed locally in response to need. Officials in my Department have discussed centres of excellence with the National Endometriosis Society and other organisations, and will continue working with them to see whether further work is appropriate.

Does the Minister accept that much more is needed? What encouragement can she give to women and their families who experience long delays in diagnosis and in appropriate treatment once the diagnosis has been made?

The hon. Lady plays an important part in the all-party group on endometriosis. As she points out, it is important that endometriosis should be diagnosed early, allowing treatment with some of the less radical approaches. That is why the pilot scheme for the national electronic library for health and a virtual branch library under that will include a section on women's reproductive health. We shall ensure that endometriosis is covered in that so that general practitioners, the first and very important point at which women can be diagnosed and then referred if necessary, have the necessary information in order to be able to carry out their work.