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Dismissal of women’s health problems as ‘benign’ leading to soaring NHS lists

Doctors’ routine dismissal of women’s debilitating health problems as “benign” has contributed to gynaecology waiting lists soaring by 60% to more than half a million patients, a senior health leader has said.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) president, Dr Edward Morris, told the Guardian that waiting lists for conditions such as endometriosis, prolapse and heavy bleeding had increased by a bigger proportion than any other area of medicine in the past two years.

Many such conditions are defined as medically benign despite being life-limiting and progressive in some cases. In medicine, “benign” is traditionally used to indicate non-cancerous conditions, but Morris said institutionalised gender bias meant the term was used more widely in gynaecology, resulting in conditions being “normalised” by non-specialists and deprioritised within the NHS.

We have to change the language. We have to call it what it is,” said Morris. “These conditions cause huge amounts of suffering to women. Being lumped in a topic called benign gynaecology downplays the importance and suffering.”

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Source: The Guardian, 2 June 2022



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