Posted by Madeleine Speed, the Pelvic Partnership, April 2017
With pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), it isn't uncommon for women to seek help for painful symptoms but unfortunately to come away without a diagnosis or a referral for manual therapy to treat their PGP.
The Pelvic Partnership was set up to promote greater awareness and understanding of pregnancy-related PGP amongst women and healthcare professionals. There is evidence from our members and readers to suggest that our message is getting heard in some areas of the UK and healthcare professionals in these areas are more aware of PGP and the best practice for treatment. However, we still hear disturbing reports from women that PGP is misunderstood and eludes diagnosis and correct treatment so neither we, as a charity, nor those providing healthcare for women with PGP, can rest on our laurels. A recent report suggests that it is not just with PGP that women are being let down when they seek help.
A report has been published which highlights that GPs are failing to recognise and treat common gynaecological problems. In addition, the report highlights insufficient care and respect for these women when they approach their GP about their symptoms. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health (WHAPPG) in the UK published the report that outlines evidence that women who have endometriosis or fibroids are not being properly informed about these conditions or the treatment options available for them. The report suggests that women commonly face barriers in obtaining appropriate diagnosis and treatment to the extent that these women have a complete lack of control and choice over their own care.
WHAPPG found that women are not being treated appropriately when it comes to their physical, mental and gynaecological health. The Group surveyed over 2,600 women and consulted hospital trusts, discovering examples of unacceptable treatment for women with fibroids and endometriosis. If women are not offered the right diagnosis or treatment information, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) for them to decide the best care for themselves.
Of those 2,600 women surveyed, regarding their endometriosis and fibroids
- Nearly 50% of these women said they were not told about the short term or long term complications from the treatment options provided to them.
- 42% of women said that they were not treated with dignity and respect
- 62% of women were not satisfied with the information that they received about treatment options for endometriosis and fibroids.
How you can push for better care
Where PGP is not recognised, diagnosed or treated, the Pelvic Partnership is urging women to provide feedback to healthcare professionals to help encourage significant improvement in care. As you may have seen on our website, the Pelvic Partnership is encouraging women to take part in our 'Stickmum’ campaign. The ‘Stickmum’ leaflets outline key symptoms and best practice for treatment and they can be downloaded for free from our website. If you could take a copy to your GP, midwife, physiotherapist or health visitor (whether or not you are seeing them about PGP symptoms), you will be helping to raise awareness of PGP (and helping all women who experience it).
For endometriosis and fibroids, the WHAPPG's report does set out key actions to remove barriers to better care and treatment for women. These include making available better written information about common gynaecological issues, endorsing best practice pathways, better education in schools and for women in general, for multi-disciplinary teams and clinicians to work together for improvements and better use of NICE guidelines which should be implemented uniformly.
Where you can make a difference, is to keep seeking help and information within your surgery or any NHS department you visit. If you feel you have been fobbed off, complain to your GP about this; it can help to take our ‘Stickmum’ leaflet and the Royal College of Obstetricians (RCOG) national guidelines for PGP, to push for the correct referral and treatment. If you still feel you are not being treated with respect or concern, complain to the Practice Manager and see a different GP. (Please also see our March Blog, for other ways you can complain).
We understand the pressures GPs and other healthcare professionals are under now in the NHS but mistakes like this should not be happening, particularly as they waste dwindling resources. We need to unite to request that best practice is evenly spread across the UK and not settle for patchy coverage. So whenever you think that your needs are not being met by your GP or other key healthcare professionals, please give feedback of your experience and complain. Thank you.