NHS: Hysteroscopies

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:59 am on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Treasury) 10:59 am, 11th December 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered NHS treatment of patients requiring hysteroscopies.

It is an absolute pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth. We know that hysteroscopies save lives, but all too often they cause excruciating pain and humiliation because some of the women who need them are not treated with the dignity, respect or even humanity that they deserve.

As hon. Members will know, a hysteroscopy involves the insertion of a camera into the womb, past the cervix, to look for abnormalities and potentially enable a surgeon to remove them. It can be used to rule out a diagnosis of cancer when women are experiencing heavy periods, unexplained bleeding, repeated miscarriages or difficulties in becoming pregnant, and it is a core part of the treatment for debilitating conditions such as fibroids and health risks such as polyps in the womb. However, for some women patients it causes severe pain, a sense of violation and lasting trauma.

The NHS website states:

“A hysteroscopy is not usually carried out under anaesthetic… Taking painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol…can help reduce discomfort after the procedure.”

Unfortunately, many women experience severe pain during hysteroscopy. It is usually done with little or no anaesthetic, and many women are told nothing to prepare them for the agony that awaits. I have passed the Minister many dozens of anonymous cases from women who have experienced terrible pain at the hands of NHS surgeons and were ill-informed or misinformed about the pain risks and offered little or no pain relief. I am glad to say that she has always received those stories with sympathy, empathy and understanding, but I am receiving more and more of them all the time.

This is not an issue that gets huge acclaim or interest in the press. People are finding our campaign and Facebook page simply because they need to. I will put just two experiences on the record today.