Women’s Health Group (Pre-eclampsia)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th September 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government when a women’s health group will be convened and whether it will prioritise the treatment of pre-eclampsia. (S5O-03541)

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

Work on developing the women’s health group will commence shortly. The group will consider a range of issues, with a clear focus on tackling health inequalities for women. I have already given a commitment that the group will prioritise the testing for and treatment of pre-eclampsia in its work plan. The member has worked hard to raise awareness of pre-eclampsia, so he will know that it is a pregnancy-specific condition that affects one in 10 pregnancies in the United Kingdom, which is 80,000 woman a year, and that it can affect the mother and the unborn child.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

I thank the cabinet secretary for that positive answer. She will be aware that pre-eclampsia is the cause of many stillbirths each year and that placental growth factor-based tests provide a reliable indication of whether a baby is at risk. My own son died a decade ago because two midwives and a consultant, among other professionals, did not diagnose pre-eclampsia in my wife, so I know what many families have gone through. When will such tests be available in routine clinical practice?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

As Mr Gibson knows, I have had recent discussions on the matter with my colleague Mr FitzPatrick. We are waiting for additional clinical evidence but, with the chief medical officer, who is of course a consultant obstetrician, we will continue to actively consider how and when we can introduce additional measures for the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of pre-eclampsia. I will ensure that the member is informed of that as soon as I have the information.

Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

Scottish Labour campaigned for a women’s health strategy, so we welcome those developments. I think that I asked this last week, but I ask again: what funding is being made available to support that work?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

A range of funding is in place for a number of condition-specific issues that, in clinical terms, affect only women. We are also interested in the wider health issues where research into diagnosis and treatment shows that women are treated differently without an apparent clinical justification. As Ms Lennon knows, that is an issue in relation to heart disease. Dealing with that is about those who diagnose and treat and about changing treatment patterns and patient pathways, and so it does not necessarily require significant additional funds.

As the women’s health group develops a women’s health plan and prioritises its work, we will allocate what we consider to be the relevant funding to the different strands of that work. I will ensure that members of this Parliament are updated, when the group is established, on who its membership is, how it is taking forward its work plan and priorities and what the timeframe is for all that work, along with what additional resourcing is going in its direction.

The Presiding Officer:

Questions 2 and 8 have been grouped, so supplementary questions will come after the second question.