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Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 19:47 GMT


Row over women's health units

Nurses called for dedicated units to improve women's health care

Women's health units need to be set up so that women can be treated in privacy and with dignity, say nurses.

Nursing 99
The Royal College of Nursing's annual conference voted on Monday - International Women's Day - for a resolution backing the creation of women's units to deal with health issues such as breast cancer.

But there was a lot of opposition from health workers who said it was discriminatory.

Judy McRae, a school nurse representative, said that boys found it very difficult to access health services.

"Teenage girls have family planning clinics, but it takes a lot of courage for boys to go to a family planning clinic where most staff are women and most people in the waiting room are women," she said.

Other speakers said men were much more ignorant about diseases that affected them, such as testicular and prostate cancer, than women were.

They said more needed to be done to make services more accessible to men.

Quality care

But Hilary Walsgrove of the Gynaecology Nursing Forum, who proposed the resolution, said beds dedicated to gynaecological and breast cancer patients were being cut back and women were not getting the quality care they needed.

She added that research showed women felt more strongly than men that they wanted single sex wards.

A 1995 survey found that 66% of men supported single sex wards, compared with 83% of women.

The resolution said that women access the NHS more than men, especially during their reproductive years.

Women's health units, said Ms Walgrove, could provide the proper therapeutic setting that would aid recovery.

She said she was not being sexist. She wanted to see quality care for all patients, but her interest was in gynaecology and breast cancer.

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