We must stop ignoring David Amess' legacy on fighting Endometriosis pain, says MP
The co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Endometriosis, Emma Hardy, told GB News about the long-term condition where tissue similar to that in the womb grows elsewhere and can cause 'debilitating' pain
The co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Endometriosis told GB News that the condition "has not had the seriousness or investment that's needed" by Government.
Endometriosis is a long-term condition which affects one in ten women.
The average diagnosis of the condition, which is estimated to impact 10% in the UK, takes eight and a half years.
A Westminster Hall debate on ‘Supporting people with endometriosis in the workplace’ is due to take place on Wednesday 9 February 2022 at 2.30pm. Emma Hardy told GB News that she could not attend the debate because she was looking after her child who has tested positive for Covid.
Emma Hardy explained "As a women's health issue, it hasn't had the seriousness or investment that's needed. It still takes over seven years for a woman to be diagnosed and desperately needs research and investment."
Sir David Amess was previously chair of the APPG on Endometriosis and campaigned for women's health issues to be addressed more frequently in Parliament.
Emma Hardy MP reflect on his work: "One of the last conversations I had with Sir David Amess was around the reports when the new minister was announced, and we made this promise that our report wasn't going to be left to get dusty on a shelf."
"We are still prioritising this and we want the Government to take them seriously and issues around endometriosis in the workplace and issues around the lack of research, these were all things that were identified as priorities in 2020."
Emma Hardy MP told GB News: "53% of women have had to have time off work because of their condition and 38% are concerned of the impact of this on their job and career. Some people still think it is just a bit of period pain. Employers need to understand we are not talking about a bit of a heavy period pain."
The APPG co-chair explained "We are encouraging employers to be Endometriosis Friendly Employers. If a woman can work at home some days when she is suffering badly, employers need to understand that this isn't about someone being a wimp and they need to take this as seriously as we take other health conditions and be flexible and adaptable."
When asked about her opinion of how to ensure that workplaces take the condition seriously, Hardy said: "In terms of legislation, it would all depend on the definition of endometriosis. If it becomes defined as a disability, then under the Equalities Act then that would give women different powers to have time off."
"It would be great if employers could just recognise it without legislation needed."
Emma Hardy explained the lack of research into what causes endometriosis and said: "there isn't enough research into this condition, there's no real understanding as to what causes it. Now the treatment options available are to go in a medically induced menopause which stops all your periods and has side effects or it's to go under the knife which is when you physically have the endometriosis scraped away which is incredibly painful and it's major surgery or you can go on the pill."
Women’s health expert Dr Aviva Romm explained the condition: "In endometriosis, tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus – the endometrium – grows on the outside, often on the ovaries, bowel or pelvis lining.
"This can start in the teenage years and is triggered by the menstrual cycle. Wherever the endometrial tissue is growing, it thickens, breaks down and sheds, just like the uterus lining does during a period."
"But because it’s not growing in the right place, blood gets trapped, leading to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions, which can cause severe and chronic pain, as well as fertility problems."
Romm says endometriosis is not just a hormone problem – the inflammation it causes affects immune function too, and women living with it may be at risk of other problems, including eczema, allergies, and autoimmune conditions.
“Doctors are missing the diagnosis so often, and in many women for so many years, when catching it early can help prevent and reverse damage,” she says.
The debate has been initiated by Alec Shelbrooke MP, who spoke to GB News' Darren McCaffrey on Tuesday to highlight the debate and the need for businesses to sign up to the Endometriosis Friendly Employers scheme.
Shelbrooke MP said "'If you were to say the names of women who suffer from endometriosis for 24 hours a day it would take you over 20 days."
The debate will highlight three areas of employment law in particular: The duty to make reasonable adjustments, Statutory Sick pay and flexible working.
GB News asked Emma Hardy MP about how the APPG is ensuring that endometriosis is addressed in England's first Women's Health Strategy, which is set to be published in 2022.
She referenced the Scottish Government's plan which was revealed in August 2021 and is aimed at improving women’s health.
The 68-page document, which Nicola Sturgeon pledged to publish in the first 100 days of the new SNP government, is the first in the UK of its kind.
Under the plans, a research fund will be created to plug gaps in scientific knowledge related to women’s health and a women’s health champion and health lead will be appointed in every NHS board.