NHS hospital patients in England to receive free sanitary products

Scheme to tackle ‘period poverty’ is good news for nurses, says RCN

Scheme to tackle ‘period poverty’ is good news for nurses, says RCN

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Female patients in hospitals in England will receive free sanitary products from later this year.

England’s chief nurse Ruth May said the issue of ‘period poverty’ affects an estimated one in ten girls across the country.

The scheme will come into effect in July, after NHS England included the directive in its new standard contract for hospitals.

Eliminate embarrassment and anxiety

Dr May cited a recent survey showing at least one in four women and girls has had to miss work or school because they could not afford sanitary products.

‘Periods are part of life and too often we take it for granted that everyone has easy access to sanitary products,’ she said.

‘Health problems are stressful enough, and this move will mean that the embarrassment, discomfort and anxiety of finding yourself in hospital without adequate protection on your period will be a thing of the past.’

The new requirement will mean women and girls receiving treatment in hospitals and other health settings will be able to request pads, pantyliners and tampons when they need them.

The move will offer reassurance to anyone needing urgent care unexpectedly, as well as those who are in hospital long term, including mental health inpatients.

‘Good news for nurses’

RCN associate director of nursing (education and learning) Stephanie Aiken said: ‘Hospitals have for some time provided free shaving materials for men, but not free sanitary products for women.

‘This move is good news for patients as well as for nurses, who we know have, on occasion, had to purchase sanitary products for their patients, often out of their own pockets.’

An RCN school nurses conference in 2017 heard that a number of nurses had used their own money to purchase sanitary products to take into schools.

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