“Dismissive” GPs warned to wake up or lose women patients

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Lady Julia Cumberlege, chair of  a damning inquiry into a series of British medical scandals around female health matters, urged women to dump their GPs if they displayed a”dismissive attitude”.

Women should switch GP if their doctor is not sympathetic. The Guardian reports that this is according to the chair of a highly critical patient safety inquiry, who said a series of medical scandals in the UK had left trust in the healthcare system “seriously broken”. Lady Julia Cumberlege, who led the review covering three separate medical scandals, said she hoped the findings would act as a wake-up call that a radical change in National Health Service (NHS) culture was needed.

One empowering step patients – women in particular – can already take is to change their GP if they are met with a dismissive attitude, the report says she advised. “If you find your GP … isn’t doing their very best for you then you should change,” she said. “You need someone you can trust and who will work for you and ensure you are taken seriously.”

Cumberlege said it was deeply troubling that so many women affected by the epilepsy drug sodium valproate, vaginal mesh and the hormone pregnancy test Primodos had been dismissed in the face of compelling safety concerns. Often they were told their problems were “all in your head” or simply down to the menopause, she said.

The inquiry was commissioned in 2018 by the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt to examine the three scandals, but the inquiry found the problems underpinning them were systemic and far-reaching.

Cumberlege said that while innovation in medicines and medical implants had saved lives, it had also resulted in devastating harms. “Innovation without pre-market testing, post-market surveillance and post-market monitoring is quite simply dangerous,” she said. She added that the failure to collect data on patient outcomes meant the healthcare system, including the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, was “flying blind”. “Acting swiftly to prevent harm is impossible without good data,” she said.

Cumberlege said it was difficult to criticise the NHS at a time when doctors and healthcare workers were being applauded as heroes for their work during the COVID-19 crisis but said the report needed to come out before the world “moves on”.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said in the report: “On behalf of the NHS and whole healthcare system, I want to issue a full apology to those who have suffered and their families for the frustration, for the time that it’s taken, that they have taken, to get their voices heard.

“This report is a wake-up call to the system to respond to patients’ concerns. One of the most striking things I have found from talking to some of the women who have been badly affected, is not only were they suffering in pain, but also the deep frustration that no one in authority would listen. And we have listened. This report details those painful accounts.”

Full report in The Guardian



See also

UK safety review damns interventions that ruined women’s lives

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