Government is failing to solve the crisis in women’s healthcare says Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health during Norwich hospital visit

Abena and Alice hospital visit a hospital. They are wearing read coats and smiling at hospital staff.

The Government is failing to solve the crisis in women’s healthcare says Shadow Minister during high profile Norwich visit. Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health, visited the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at the invitation of Alice Macdonald, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Norwich North, who has a record of raising awareness of health and dentistry concerns across the city.

A Labour government would reverse the deeply concerning state of maternity care by training thousands more midwives and health visitors and incentivising continuity of care for women across their pregnancy. They would also set an explicit target to end the Black maternal mortality gap, which sees Black women in the UK still much more likely to die whilst pregnant, giving birth, or as new mothers than white women.

During the visit, both Alice and Abena praised the staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital saying they are doing incredible work in ‘very tough circumstances.’ More than 900 women are waiting more than a year for gynaecological treatment at the Hospital according to latest NHS figures published in January.  Alice was keen to emphasise that the fault doesn’t lie with the fantastic doctors and nurses but rather a system that is failing right across the country. 

Nationally, women are waiting far too long for gynaecological treatment. According to new NHS data, nearly 600,000 women are on a waiting list for hospital-based gynaecological services, with almost 36,000 patients waiting more than a year for an appointment. These numbers are in stark comparison to only 5 years ago when less than half (260,000) women were on the same waiting lists. In the same time period, there has also been a massive increase in the average waiting time for an appointment, up to over 16 weeks compared to 7.4 weeks. 

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust is home to one of two Maternal Medicine Centres (MMCs) of excellence in the East of England for pregnant women with pre-existing medical conditions. This was established following reports that showed most of the women dying during or after pregnancy have pre-existing conditions exacerbated by pregnancy rather than due to the pregnancy itself. It is also one of three specialist services for patients with endometriosis in the region. 

This visit comes as new data from MBRRACE-UK highlights that Maternal death rates in the UK have increased to levels not seen for almost 20 years. This follows on from the CQC’s Maternity survey published last year, which found that people’s experiences of care have deteriorated in the last 5 years.

Labour’s mission-driven government would end the sticking-plaster politics of the last 14 years and would build an NHS fit for the future. A Labour government would take immediate action to cut waiting lists by providing £1.1 billion to help the NHS beat the backlog – providing two million more appointments every year, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status. 

Alice Macdonald said:

“It was fantastic to see the positive work being done at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital to improve women’s health. Our brilliant NHS staff are working round the clock to get waiting lists down but they’ve been let down by a Tory Government who, over 14 long years, have failed to get to grips with the crisis in the NHS. Labour has set out a plan to get the NHS back on its feet including the biggest expansion of the NHS workforce in history and harnessing innovations in medical science and technology like that being pioneered right here in Norwich. For far too long, women’s health has been overlooked- that must change’ 

Abena Oppong-Asare MP said:

“I was pleased to meet the hard-working staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to discuss how we improve maternity services for mothers and decrease waiting times for women seeking gynaecological treatment. 

“The sooner women receive the care they need the better, but far too many are waiting over a year or longer for treatment here in Norwich. It is also clear that maternity services across England are falling short of what’s needed, with increasing numbers of women sadly losing their lives.

“Labour will turn the page on 14 years of Conservative mismanagement of our NHS. A Labour government will take immediate action to cut waiting lists, train thousands more midwives, set targets to end the Black maternal mortality gap and make the NHS fit for the future.”