WATCH: Women’s Health Plan “must address ingrained problems” says SNP MSP

The Scottish Government’s commitment to publish a Women’s Health Plan is welcome, but must address “ingrained” problems, according to Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate on the plan, Ms Roddick said that many of the problems in women’s health are deep-rooted. She said they are “the result of many years of lack of understanding, concern, and motivation throughout society to do anything about substandard care”.

Endometriosis was a focus on Ms Roddick’s contribution, in which she expressed concern that many of those who seek help with their periods are dismissed. She said:

“We have to recognise and admit that one of the reasons it takes so long to get a diagnosis of endometriosis is that those who seek help with their periods are dismissed. We are accused of exaggerating pain; of it being because we are a size 14 instead of a size 8; and – especially if we also have mental health issues – of being essentially hysterical, with doctors suggesting it’s all in our heads.

“It’s not just that there is a long assessment period or a lack of research and available treatment, but that we are sent home from the GP again and again with a wave of the hand and a pack of paracetamol.

“I am committed to working with the Government to make life better for those who suffer these issues, but we must begin from a point of understanding just how bad the situation is and that, for many, periods don’t just bring a cramp or an annoyance, they bring a debilitating, excruciating pain which prohibits mobility and may even require hospitalisation.”

Roddick welcomed to the commitment by the Scottish Government to reduce waiting times for diagnosing the condition, which affects an estimated one in ten women during the years they menstruate. Of these, around 500 women in Scotland have endometriosis severe enough to require specialist treatment.

This was Roddick’s first speech made remotely from the Highlands, a provision introduced to the Parliament due to COVID but that she has argued should be retained after the pandemic to increase access.

You can watch the contribution below: