Clarity is needed from the Department of Health on a definitive timeframe for the roll-out of new model of care for endometriosis patients, according to Fine Gael TD Colm Burke.
Deputy Burke said: “Endometriosis is one of the most common gynaecological conditions in Ireland and affects approximately 1 in 10 women. It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside of the uterus.
“It is vital that women can access services to ensure they are diagnosed as early as possible and treated appropriately to both alleviate their symptoms and preserve their fertility.
“Last month, Minister Donnelly announced the development of the National Endometriosis Framework to set out a defined clinical care pathway for women with endometriosis.
“Two regional specialist centres for complex care for endometriosis are currently in development. A specialist endometriosis service is in place in Tallaght University Hospital, with a new service for more complex endometriosis cases at Cork University Maternity Hospital in development.
“Five interdisciplinary teams are also being established to support the holistic treatment of endometriosis in each of the maternity networks.
“This new Model of Care, for an area of women’s health that has been historically under-recognised, proposes that women with symptoms of endometriosis be treated on the basis of presumed diagnosis.
“The Women’s Health Taskforce, which was established by my colleague, then Minister for Health Simon Harris in 2019, has heard from women with endometriosis, who have described their experiences of the condition as painful, isolating, misdiagnosed, lonely and dismissed.
“Some female patients spoke to RTÉ recently of their difficulty in getting a diagnosis and having to travel abroad , most commonly to the UK or Romania, to seek treatment.
“The women affected said that their condition can leave them immobilised by pain, meaning they miss out on days and months of school, college and work.
“While the new model of care is a welcome development, it would be helpful to have a definitive timeframe for some of the services being rolled out, in addition to the provision of holistic and other treatments for the conditions throughout our maternity network.
“What would be helpful is the provision of an information campaign from the Department on the new model of care for endometriosis.
“GPs should also have the appropriate training to enable them to refer women for specialist treatment,” Deputy Burke concluded.