Endometriosis Workplace Support

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:08 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 3:08 pm, 29th October 2019

That was a brave speech by Louise Haigh. I congratulate my right hon. Friend Alec Shelbrooke on introducing the debate.

Since the BBC covered this subject on 7 October, many of our constituents have raised issues with us. I will not repeat them all; I will just pay tribute to Carla Cressy, a local constituent who came to see me at a surgery, described her condition and encouraged me to set up the all-party parliamentary group on endometriosis. We have with us the hon. Members for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Gill Furniss), for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff) and for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Emma Hardy), who are all very active members of that group. I thank them for all their support.

When it comes to appreciating the severity of endometriosis, I was concerned to learn that the universal credit manual states that “endometriosis is rarely disabling”. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister will be keen to explain the progress that has already been made on this subject, and I kindly ask that that that guidance is re-examined and corrected. If workplace support is to be suitable, we have to make sure that managers truly appreciate that the condition is not just a little inconvenience; it affects everyone’s lives and can often be disabling. If we truly want progress towards meaningful workplace support, we need to address the concerns of 1.5 million women. I echo the words of Gill Furniss. We should encourage employers to become endometriosis-friendly and make sure that there is access to statutory sick pay for those who suffer from it.

I end with these thoughts: the House cannot get Brexit done, but the all-party group on endometriosis will get endometriosis support done. We are launching an inquiry and will invite Ministers from all the different Departments to contribute. When it is done, the inquiry will not simply gather dust; we will make sure that there is real action.