CL Medilaw are supporting the government’s long overdue Women’s Health Strategy. The aim of which is to improve NHS services for women.
It is a perennial problem that we, as solicitors in medical negligence, see again and again: women’s health is still often surrounded by stigma, which can either prevent women from speaking about issues concerning their health or they are not properly heard. We understand this, not just as medical negligence lawyers, but as women who use the healthcare system.
It has finally been recognised by the government that, “For generations, women have lived with a health and care system that is mostly designed by men, for men”.
It is counterintuitive that men should be responsible for designing the medical framework for women’s health concerns. Women need to be placed at the heart of their own health care system, which means listening to their voices, and putting women in positions of influence and power in government, and medical organisations, where decisions about women’s health issues are being made.
CL Medilaw welcomes the governments “call for evidence” by collecting views through a public survey which is now available, closing on the 13 June 2021 to help understand a women’s experience of health, and the health and care system.
The survey seeks views on six core themes:
- Placing women’s voices at the centre of their health and care
- Improving the quality and accessibility of information and education on women’s health
- Ensuring the health and care system understands and is responsive to women’s health and care needs across their life course
- Maximising women’s health in the workplace
- Ensuring research, evidence and data support improvements in women’s health
- Understanding and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s health
We hope that the information will help to ensure that the strategy, is not only evidence-based but also reflects what women identify as priorities.
As women lawyers, we understand what it can feel like not to be heard, and your concerns brushed aside by medical professionals. We represent many women who have sought medical treatment but have been reassured that their symptoms are nothing to worry about, to later be told that they have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition. These cases include:
- Delays in diagnosing breast, cervical, ovarian and vulval cancer;
- Delays in responding to complaints of incontinence resulting in a delayed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome;
- Healthcare professionals not listening to or taking on board a mother’s concerns during her pregnancy or birth, or failing to recognise and manage complications, leading to traumatic birth experiences and lasting physical or psychological symptoms, and sometimes injuries to their child causing life-long disabilities or even stillbirth or neonatal death;
We also represent women who have been deprived of their opportunity to give their informed consent to their medical treatment, and have gone on to be harmed by that treatment. This can happen when healthcare professionals have not explained the risks involved in a particular treatment or advised about alternative treatment options. Even small risks can be important to a patient, and the law now makes it clear that the medical professional should be alert to this and ensure full information is provided.
An area we continue to see women or their babies being harmed is when making birth choices during pregnancy. Where to give birth, when to give birth, and the type of delivery is one of the most important discussions a mother may have during her pregnancy. We find that risks are often downplayed or not discussed at all by medical professionals, with women often being encouraged down a path that may suit local maternity resources more than it suits that woman as an individual. This is contrary to her right by law to be made aware of risks and the other options available to her.
We understand the courage it takes for someone to speak to us and to talk through the concerns they have about the treatment they or a loved one has received, but we can offer a free, confidential consultation to listen to your concerns and provide you with some advice on what you should do next.
Please do not hesitate to call CL Medilaw on 0345 241 0154 or put your details on our contact form and a member of our team can call you straight back, if you would like to discuss the concerns that you have regarding your treatment, or that of a loved one.