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Better workplace support needed for women’s health issues, nurses warn

A lack of workplace support for women’s health issues is driving nurses out of the profession, a nursing conference has heard.

Nursing staff at this year’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress have voted to push its governing council to ‘lobby employers to ensure that female employees are supported with specific women’s health and wellbeing needs’, such as the menopause, menstruation, fertility care and pregnancy.

Leading a debate on the topic at the conference, Francesca Steyn, chair of the RCN Fertility Nursing Forum said: ‘When faced with women’s health concerns, many women including those who identify as and were assigned female at birth may consider reducing their work hours or leaving work entirely.

‘Such concerns can include fertility problems, painful periods, gynae conditions, pregnancy and postnatal care and the menopause, and can impact working women both physically and psychologically.’

Ms Steyn said sanitary provisions in places of work were ‘often’ inadequate.

‘They’re not changed frequently enough, they’re disgusting, and women have to suffer that, especially if they’re suffering with endometriosis,’ she told the conference.

There were also instances where nurses have to ‘inject fertility medication in the toilets’ because there were no other appropriate spaces.

‘All we’re asking for is that women are not discriminated against at work due to their biology and they get the support they need in order to fill their career progression needs and not have to choose their career over their health,’ she added.

Chair of the RCN’s Women’s Health Forum Katharine Gale also took to the stand at congress and told of her experiences of endometriosis, fertility treatment and said that the menopause had forced her to walk out of her job.

‘I call on the [RCN] Council to commit to improving the support for women working in their own organisation, as well

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