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NHS Wales to give free sanitary products to inpatients

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The government in Wales has announced it will be offering free sanitary products to all women in hospitals, following the move from NHS England earlier this week.

Health minister Vaughan Gething has today vowed that sanitary products will be offered to patients who are being treated in hospital in Wales, for free.

“It’s unacceptable for anyone not to be able to access essential period products because they can’t afford them”

Vaughan Gething

Speaking of the announcement, he explained how he thought it is “unacceptable” for anyone to not have access to period products because they can’t afford them, especially when they are in hospital.

Mr Gething noted that he has asked officials to work with the health service in Wales to “implement this policy as soon as possible”.

The news follows an announcement from chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, who promised the same move on Monday. Mr Stevens pledged that as of this summer, all women and girls being cared for under NHS England will be given appropriate sanitary products free of charge.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, the announcements come after leading doctors at the British Medical Association called for the change.

An investigation carried out by the BMA uncovered that a significant number of trusts and health boards (42%) do not supply such products at all, would only supply small amounts or would supply them only in an emergency.

It was also identified that a number of trusts and health boards listed toiletry items such as razors and shaving foam as being provided to patients for free during their hospital stay, but not sanitary items.

According to the Welsh health service, the government in Wales committed more than £1m to help address period poverty in communities across the country and to improve school toilet facilities in a bid to ensure dignity for young people.

In addition, local authorities in Wales also received £440,000 up until 2020 to tackle period poverty by providing products to people who may otherwise struggle to afford them, through schools or local food banks and shelters.

For school toilet facilities, an additional £700,000 of capital funding has been allocated to improve them to ensure all young people can access good sanitary facilities when they need them and can manage their periods with confidence.

“The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring everyone in Wales is able to access essential period products”

Vaughan Gething

In wake of his recent announcement, Mr Gething said: “The Welsh government is committed to ensuring everyone in Wales is able to access essential period products.

“We have already committed more than £1m to tackle period poverty in our schools and communities,” he added.

“Currently the provision of sanitary products for hospital inpatients varies across Wales as each health board has their own policy,” he said.

The health minister said he wanted to “ensure all women admitted to hospital in Wales can access these essential products”.

“It’s unacceptable for anyone not to be able to access essential period products because they can’t afford them, particularly when they are receiving treatment in hospital,” he said.

“Patients should expect to receive the best possible care in comfort and dignity,” said Mr Gething.

“I have asked our officials to work with NHS Wales to implement this policy as soon as possible,” he said.

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