NHS England has announced that any patient will be able to ask for free sanitary products as of this summer, which is obviously a good thing, even if it is perplexing that it wasn’t already the case.
The decision came after repeated lobbying from the British Medical Association (BMA). A motion for the state providing free tampons gained an overwhelming majority in a BMA vote last year, after it was proposed by medical student Eleanor Wilson.
Dame Parveen Kumar, chairwoman of the BMA’s board for science, says that BMA research has proved the “relatively small cost” of the provision, which is currently “patchy or non-existent”. She also celebrates the changes, saying: “We are pleased that our work with NHS England has culminated in such a successful result, bringing an end to indignity on top of ill health.”
Chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens has similarly praised the announcement, saying: “It’s fundamental that we give patients the best experience possible during what can be a stressful time of their life, and by providing sanitary products the NHS can prevent unnecessary embarrassment and leave people to focus on their recovery.”
Freedom4Girls, an organisation that campaigns against period poverty, also welcomed the decision, with founder Tina Leslie saying: “NHS England has stepped up to the mark.” However, Freedom4Girls also acknowledge the ongoing debate, drawing attention to a tweet from Red Box Project co-founder Anna Miles that reads: “Time to step up @GOVUK & provide this in our schools.”
The new announcement follows news in the last week that period health and consent will be taught in English schools by 2020. The much-needed reform will involve lessons on periods, consent, and sexting.