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Women’s Health Strategy

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 8 June 2022

As I have said in answer to previous questions, the women’s health strategy will be forthcoming. We have had over 100,000 responses to our call for evidence. We published the vision document in December, and the full strategy will be published shortly.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has just released figures to show that gynaecology waiting lists have soared by over 60% to half a million people—a bigger proportion than in any other area of medicine. What are the Government going to do to sort this out and get waiting lists down so that women get the healthcare they need?

It is true that the backlog caused by covid is having an impact on gynae procedures. The roll-out of our community diagnostic centres will help significantly with that because GPs will be able to refer women straight to them, and they will be able to get some of their gynae procedures done there without having to have secondary care referrals. We hope that will make an improvement for women.

To be clear, the backlog is not caused just by covid. Figures published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists shows that the number of women waiting over 12 months for healthcare in England ballooned from 66 women two years ago to 25,000 women today. They include a constituent of mine who recently wrote to me stating that the earliest available gynaecological appointment offered to her was in October 2023—over a year from now. Given that the Government’s long-delayed women’s health strategy still does not exist, what action will the Minister take now to reduce these unacceptable waiting times? After all, this week is meant to be the Government’s Health Week.

I think the hon. Lady has answered her own question. She says that cases have risen in the past two years; that is precisely because of the pandemic. If we were under a Labour Government we would still be in lockdown.