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GPs ‘failing to refer women promptly for gynaecological problems’

MPs have called on GPs to refer women more promptly for suspected gynaecological problems and to provide them with more information, after finding women were ‘not being treated appropriately’.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health (WHAPPG) said it found that two-fifths of women with endometriosis had at least 10 appointments with the GP before being referred to a specialist.

But the RCGP said that GPs took these issues, which are difficult to diagnose, very seriously.

The group’s survey of 2,600 women with fibroids and endometriosis also found that two-fifths sought a second opinion, while two-thirds of women said they got most of their information about their condition from the internet.

The MPs said women felt that their GPs lacked understanding and that they were ‘fobbed off’.

The report also claimed there is a lack of GP education about gynaecological conditions, what treatments are available and where to refer – leading to delays in referral for embolization for fibroids, for example, and to specialist centres for endometriosis.

They recommended that ‘GPs, secondary care clinicians and nurses should provide or signpost women to high quality information and resources about endometriosis and fibroids, their impact and treatment options’ and called for 'multi professional training and education opportunities to be supported by the RCN [Royal College of Nurses], RCGP and RCOG (Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology] – which have CPD points on endometriosis and fibroids'.

Paula Sherriff, WAPPHG chair, said: 'I was shocked by some of the stories we heard. The group has found that best practice does exist, adn tehre are ways that women should be treated in the NHS. Women should not be dismissed and ignored, they should be referred to appropriate care and then given information [about] all possible treatment options, and their side effects and complications.'

But RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said GPs ‘know that both endometriosis and fibroids can cause women considerable pain and distress, and these are both conditions that GPs and our teams are aware of and take seriously’.

Professor Stokes-Lampard added that it was ‘regrettable that so many women in this paper have reported a negative experience in obtaining a diagnosis’, but cautioned that the survey was ‘unlikely to be representative of all women’s experiences’.

She said: ‘Women’s health is a key part of the RCGP curriculum which all GPs must demonstrate competence of in order to practise independently in the UK – and both endometriosis and fibroids are covered in the exams that GP trainees must pass in order to attain MRCGP.

‘The college has recognised women’s health as a clinical priority over the next 12 months and will shortly embark on a programme of work to develop resources to support GPs and our teams in the identification and treatment of women’s health issues. We look forward to working with a number of organisations, including the WHAPPG and other medical royal colleges, to inform this project.’

 

 

Readers' comments (13)

  • Easy peasey let them refer themselves after a consult with Dr google and then watch the house of card come tumbling down.It would also help if we had much better access to imaging,but considering for health we are the poor man of Europe no surprise really.

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  • the assumption being that endometriosis is easy to diagnose. Sometimes it is, sometimes isn"t. I know of several women with clear functional bowel disease who have "minimal endometriosis" on laparoscopy and aggressive attempts to treat this have led to harm. With atypical presentation, delay will always occur under the present system. There is no survey for " the doctor said I have IBS and he is right" which saved countless investigations.

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  • well, clearly there is a strong desire to continue to maintain illusion of "first-class" service that is an "envy of the world". this of cause involves continuing to feed public expectations to demand "better than expected" care. now match this with appropriate funding in primary and in secondary care, with timely access to imaging and specialist opinion. can see that coming?

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  • Pointless article, really

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  • There is also the point of course that most endometriosis is not a disease and if all woman where investigated a large percentage would have asymptomatic endometriosis so therefore are we over treating and medicalising things again because of pressure by certain groups in society. This of course doesn't mean that patients with severe disease shouldn't be treated.

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  • Ok, agree that delays do occur. Endometriosis is a difficult diagnosis and we have even specialists failing to spot the signs at times. We need to be wary and work diligently together and we do agree on this.
    Generalizing poor care from GPs won't improve things or get GPs WAPPHGing tails to the Parliamentary committee.

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  • This is politics.

    On one side, they slug us off for not referring more. On the other side, through deliverately starving healthcare funds, they try and put in "innovative" ways of stopping referrals.

    Well, which do they want? If they want more referrals, I can certainly manage that much easier then what we are currently doing.

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  • If I was HSL I would want to tell this group to forth and multiply and stop micro-mananging GPs.

    But then again, that's why Im not the chair of the RCGP

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  • Disappearing Doc

    Since when is every condition 'simple' to diagnose. Has anyone done a study investing how people feel generally about the speed of diagnosis for a range of different conditions . I bet in a significant number of conditions the general rule will be people are pissed off it took their 'dumb' Dr 'so long' to figure out what was wrong. Like medicine is simple or something. That's why it takes 6 years of undergraduate study to qualify as a Dr and when you start your first job you realise you know virtually nothing. Diagnosing is easy? ... apparently ..or so say these idiot ignorant MPs

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  • Spuds

    You refer too much
    You don't refer enough
    You refer too much
    You don't refer enough
    You refer too much
    You don't refer enough
    You refer too much
    You don't refer enough
    You refer too much
    You don't refer enough
    You refer too much
    You don't refer enough

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