Sexism row as MP says there is constant expectation that women’s care can be ‘done on the cheap’
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns described the NHS as "inherently and systematically sexist"
There is an expectation that women’s health services and care can be “done of the cheap” an MP has said.
Alicia Kearns previously spoke out in the House of Commons after she was denied a Caesarean section until her husband noticed their unborn son’s heart rate had plummeted.
The Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton has described the NHS as “inherently and systematically sexist,” hitting out at how women are treated.
Ms Kearns said: “The anger and the heartbreak that I have felt and so many of us have felt, I have to say that, as an MP, over the last two-and-a-half years I have sadly had to conclude that NHS bureaucracies are inherently and systematically sexist.
“There is a constant expectation that women’s services and care can be done on the cheap, or that because women have given birth for generations and generations they don’t deserve the support they need.”
Ms Kearns’ comments come after the publication of the Ockenden Report, an independent review of maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
The review found that 201 babies and nine mothers could have or would have survived if the NHS trust had provided better care.
The MP added that her mother heard her speak in Parliament, recalling when she was giving birth to Ms Kearn’s brother and asked for an epidural of her own.
She continued: “She remembers being screamed at by the consultant and told ‘You think you’re special, you’re not special, women do this every day’.
“Again, I shared my own experience of having a C-section. I ended up being taken to the operating theatre twice because they weren’t willing to give me the C-section that I needed when I’d been in labour for 36 hours and my son had already almost died once, because of this obsession with stats and low C-section rates, and also this idea that there is a normal birth.
“There is no such thing as the births that we see in movies. Some women have amazing birth stories but these should not be expected of all women.
“I think we have a way to go but I think anyone who’s watching this who is about to go into labour – know that our hospitals are safe, but you need to know that you have every right to challenge the system and to say at any point ‘Wait, no, why? What are the alternatives and why are you doing this?’
“It is your body and you have a right to challenge and demand better and demand what you need to keep you safe,” she told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday.
Ms Kearns was asked what the Government can do to improve the current situation, to which she said Health Secretary Sajid Javid is “exactly the man to deal with this”, adding that he “cares deeply about fighting for women’s rights, he cares deeply about families and supporting them”.
“And I believe, truly, that if there is a health secretary that will fight for it, it is Sajid,” she said.
“And he will make sure that women’s voices are listened to and he has committed to looking around the country to make sure that we don’t see something like this again.”