NHS Trusts stop patients getting support, writes MP ALICIA KEARNS

Given the success of our vaccine programme we cannot allow NHS Trusts to insist on blanket policies that stop mothers, children or any other patient benefiting from the vital support of a loved one, writes MP ALICIA KEARNS

Did you know that the dosages on every day medicines are set at the dose a man would need? Did you know that the impact of nutrition on pregnant women was researched using a cohort that was 100% male? 

That pharmaceutical trials are too often made up of only men and so Government Ministers stepped in to make sure that COVID-19 vaccine trials were 50% male and 50% female?

The last few weeks there’s been a lot of discussion about risks of vaccines. A one in 1,000 risk of a blood clot. No, that’s not the AstraZeneca vaccine which has a risk of 1 in 250,000, it’s the combined contraceptive pill. 

Surely that should be making headlines and dominating pub discussions? Oh, I forgot, it’s a risk only women have to take on when they decide whether or not to take the pill.

But behind the realisation that many women have had over the last few weeks – that perhaps a common medication might carry more risk than a lifesaving vaccine – there is a wider point: the scandal that women’s health is frankly second class.

Given the success of the vaccine programme, we cannot allow NHS Trusts to insist on policies that stop mothers benefitting from the support of a loved one, Alicia Kearns (above) says

That’s about to change. And quite rightly too – the Government is committed to putting women’s health front and centre through the NHS White Paper and the Women’s Health consultation. No Government has ever stepped up to improve women’s health – so I hope that women everywhere take this opportunity to have our say.

For months, this newspaper has given a voice to women who had to experience stillbirths alone, who were alone when they learned their child had died in the womb or faced a lifetime of complications, and who have laboured, or even given birth, alone. 

Our campaign forced NHS Trusts across the country to stop denying women their partners during scans, procedures and birth. 

Given the success of our world-leading vaccine programme, and as we beat this virus, we cannot allow NHS Trusts to insist on blanket policies that stop mothers, children, cancer, stroke or any other patient benefitting from the vital support of a loved one.

I know this goes on, and I understand this pain, because just a few weeks ago, on my own in a hospital room, I was devastated to be told that my baby daughter needs major surgery. 

There’s been discussion about risks of vaccines. A one in 1,000 risk of a blood clot. No, that’s not the AstraZeneca vaccine, it’s the combined contraceptive pill (stock image)

Having experienced this, it is heart-breaking to continue to receive messages from people alone in hospital beds or kept away from loved ones.

The NHS White Paper in last week’s Queen’s Speech can change this. It proposes to allow Government further powers so that it can insist that Government guidance – such as partners being present – is followed and will break down the often-unnavigable bureaucracy too many patients continue to face. 

The White Paper is also accompanied by £98 million for maternity care, including new maternal mental health hubs; I am particularly thrilled that one will be located in Leicestershire.

For generations, women have lived with a health and care system that is mostly designed by men, for men. We now have a chance to change that, as the Government is creating the first ever Women’s Health Strategy for England. 

No Government has ever taken NHS bureaucracy to task this hard on improving women’s health, and all of us need to make sure our voices are heard to change things for good. 

The Government survey covers maternity, mental health, education on women’s health issues, quality of services, and the impact of COVID-19 on our health. We each have just under a month to have our say. 

Because as our campaign to support mothers has shown, when we raise our voices together, we make our voices heard.

Alicia Kearns is the Tory MP for Rutland and Melton.   

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