With the Covid-19 situation moving at a pace, women’s health concerns in Wales are also developing. Some of them have remained largely unchanged since lockdown started, including how and where to access vital medical treatment and how to manage pre-existing conditions. Others are becoming more worrisome as time goes on, such as whether women’s health services will resume any time soon or if they will suffer as a consequence of the anticipated surge in demand for NHS Wales care.
FTWW has been exploring the impact of Covid-19 on women’s health and associated services throughout the pandemic. In April, we published our initial findings in ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Women’s Health in Wales’; since then, we have continued to listen to our members and are pleased to now bring you our latest report, ‘The Impact of Covid-19 in Wales: A Women’s Health Perspective’ which not only outlines our members’ concerns, but also makes detailed recommendations and posits some solutions to Welsh Government.
We have submitted this document to the Health, Social Care, and Sport Committee, who are currently conducting an inquiry into the Covid-19 outbreak, and its management, on health and social care in Wales. We look forward to bringing you updates on this as work progresses.
In the meantime, believe it or not, there will be Welsh Parliament elections next year and Wales’s political parties are now consulting on what to include in their manifestos. FTWW took this opportunity to ensure that our members’ voices are heard, submitting a list of ‘asks’ to each of them which would see women’s health prioritised in Wales.
Included amongst these are key recommendations from our patient-led reports on Covid-19, endometriosis, recurrent miscarriage, and menopause, as well as our ‘Menstrual Well-being on the School Curriculum’ campaign.
Alongside, we have highlighted other issues brought to our attention by women across Wales, including the need for specialist mother and baby peri-natal mental health beds, care pathways for auto-immune conditions, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), and fibromyalgia – and for every woman in the country to be guaranteed access to high-quality, specialist services, irrespective of where in Wales she lives! For our full list of policy asks, please click here: FTWW Policy Asks
Throughout this crisis, FTWW has continued to provide its online support services 24/7, via its dedicated forum. This mechanism has enabled our community to share their experiences and discuss those most pressing issues facing them as lockdown continues. Many report feeling that they’re ‘slipping through the net’ and don’t have the support they feel they should have from Government or local authorities.
We ask both the existing Welsh Labour Government and the other political parties in Wales to consider that:
• Women make up 52% of the population in Wales
• More women than men are living with chronic illness, both physical and mental
• Health conditions affecting women tend to incur a significant diagnostic delay
• Women require more clinical interventions as a consequence of pregnancy and childbirth
• Women, including disabled / ill women, are more likely to be care-givers, single parents, and on low incomes
And, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, to understand and resolve the following:
Women being disproportionately affected by the cancelling of medical appointments, hospital procedures or operations, and difficulties accessing medication
Women with, as yet, formally undiagnosed health conditions, finding it hard to take advantage of the provisions put in place for those considered ‘vulnerable’, including supermarket or pharmacy deliveries
Pregnant women at risk of injury and trauma as a result of restricted services
Disabled / ill women more likely to be on low incomes, and finding it hard to pay increased utility and food costs
Women at increased risk of mental health issues as a consequence of ill health in combination with the additional practical and psychological pressures of lockdown.