The Conservatives have been accused of “failing women” as analysis reveals gynaecology waiting times have trebled in the past decade, with more than 540,000 waiting for NHS care.
NHS England data shows that in October 2012, the average waiting time to see a gynaecologist was 4.8 weeks. By October 2022, the most recent month for which figures are available, that figure had increased by 225% to 15.6 weeks.
Many of the conditions experienced by women waiting to see a gynaecologist are progressive. Left untreated, they can need more complex or invasive surgery. Thousands are living in extreme pain as a result of the long waits, doctors, health experts and charities told the Guardian.
The figures reveal that 38,231 women have been waiting more than a year. Ten years ago there were 15 women in England waiting longer than 12 months – and no one waiting two years. Today, 69 women have been waiting more than 24 months.
Dr Ranee Thakar, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “This new analysis adds to our own research that gynaecology waiting lists were outstripping other specialities long before the pandemic, and they continue to grow rapidly.
“Shockingly, the fact we can now track this pattern back 10 years, shows how long overdue action is to address the unequal growth in waiting lists.”
Thakar added: “Women’s health has been consistently deprioritised. Gynaecology waiting times are currently the longest we’ve seen since waiting list targets were introduced, leaving thousands of women with symptoms including extreme pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and incontinence.”
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Source: The Guardian, 19 December 2022