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What price dignity? Well since you ask, 71 pence.
That was the estimated cost, per bed, per year, of providing sanitary products to patients, which the BMA uncovered in a Freedom of Information request.
Despite the negligible cost, the BMA also found that 42 per cent of trusts and health boards in the UK either did not supply such products at all, supplied small amounts or only provided them in an emergency.
Eleanor Wilson, the medical student whose successful call at last year’s BMA annual representative meeting for sanitary products to be provided fired up the association’s campaigning, said patients were having their dignity withheld from them. It was profoundly unjust.
Now, just a few months after Ms Wilson received overwhelming support from her fellow BMA members, she has also received support from NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, who said all women and girls cared for by the health service would be able to ask for sanitary products free of charge from this summer. The Welsh government has made a similar commitment, to be introduced ‘as soon as possible’.
Ms Wilson said: ‘I am so delighted that an issue, which doctors brought into the public domain only last June, has now been addressed for the benefit of so many women.’
It just goes to show what can be achieved when an issue is brought to the ARM, and there is an overwhelming moral case and good research underpinning it.
Many other issues are raised there, and it can take a lot longer for the Government to be receptive.
But campaigners on a wide range of subjects can at least look to the success of this initiative and realise that Whitehall is not always a brick wall.
Find out more
It’s a shame it has taken so long. A colleague of mine was a patient a few years ago and was caught short needing such products whilst an in patient for an unrelated procedure. There were none on the ward and had difficulty procuring from the hospital shop.
Keith you actual cooper
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