2020: Raising awareness about painful hysteroscopies

  • 11th December 2020

This month, we’ve been looking back over 2020 and highlighting some of the key areas of health and care that Patient Safety Learning has worked in this year. First, Chief Executive, Helen Hughes, gave an overview, detailing some of the main ways we’ve been achieving our aims as an organisation. Following that, we looked at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patient safety, and, earlier this week, we focused on the advice and support we’ve given people living with Long COVID.

In today’s blog, we reflect on the work we’ve been doing to highlight serious patient safety concerns relating to hysteroscopy procedures in the NHS and how we’ve been making the case for change.

As an additional option to the text below, you might like to watch the following video from Stephanie O'Donohue, Content and Engagement Manager of Patient Safety Learning's the hub:

Sharing patients’ experiences on the hub

In February this year, we heard from the Campaign Against Painful Hysteroscopy (CAPH) about the high numbers of women experiencing painful hysteroscopies. This prompted us to start a new Community discussion on our patient safety platform, the hub, titled ‘Painful hysteroscopy’, asking members to share their experiences with us. This has, by far, been the most popular discussion on the hub. To date, there have been close to 100 comments made, over 30 members have contributed to the discussion, and the conversation itself has received nearly 6,000 page views, with people viewing the discussion daily.

Engaging with patients, clinicians, researchers and leaders

Through our contact with CAPH and hearing from patients, clinicians and researchers on the hub, we’ve identified the main patient safety issues to be around consent, access to pain relief and implementation of guidance.

Since identifying these issues, we have written to key political stakeholders, including Nadine Dorries MP, Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, and Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

More recently, we have made a request for data from the National Reporting and Learning System (the central NHS database for patient safety incident reports) to understand whether the experiences we are hearing about are being accurately captured. We believe patients’ experiences of hysteroscopy should be proactively gathered and used to evidence and inform improvements.

Looking forward

In 2021, we will continue calling for patients’ experiences of hysteroscopy, and their concerns about this procedure, to be heard and responded to. We want to see systems put in place to support patient safety, and evidence-based conversations occurring between clinicians and patients before procedures take place. These conversations should aim to ensure patients are well-informed of the benefits, risks and alternatives of the procedure, as well as what impact it will have on them if they choose not to proceed. You can read more about the action we believe is needed to address the patient safety issues around painful hysteroscopies.

Blog image hysteroscopy


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