A 23-year-old student whose struggle with endometriosis left her “begging for a hysterectomy” has been forced to go private for treatment.
Jess Crisp, who has lived with the chronic condition since she was 11, faced a three-year waiting list for surgery with the NHS. The surgery, which will not cure Jess but would help to manage her symptoms, will cost around £4,000 privately.
Speaking of the decision to go private Jess said: “Although I am paying to be seen, the earliest appointment with an endometriosis specialist is the 17 January. That is two months away”. She added: “Privately there is also a backlog now because so many people are pulling out of the NHS and going private”.
Her symptoms became so severe during a recent flare-up that she was admitted to A&E.
Jess said: “When I was in A&E the gynaecologist said that all they could do was try to get the pain under control. I asked if I could be admitted for laparoscopy, and they told me that it was considered investigative surgery and I couldn’t be admitted for it. He did say they would get me seen before my next flare-up for a referral, but the waiting list for surgery is 3 years.”
After her trip to A&E, her symptoms did not improve. Jess said: “I couldn’t get out of bed for a week, I could manage a dog walk and then would sleep for the rest of the day. At this point, I decided to go private because I was worried it could be something else”.
Her experience with the incurable chronic condition has left Jess feeling hopeless and she admits to considering a hysterectomy. She said: “I was begging for a hysterectomy. If I was offered one, I would take it, just for the chance to be free of it all”.
At 23 Jess has seen multiple gynaecologists and had two surgical procedures to remove endometriosis tissue. She has been placed on a range of different contraceptives and medications, including a recent course of injections to induce the menopause.
Emotionally the struggle with endometriosis has taken its toll on Jess, who said: “I’m back to counselling for the first time since I was 18. I have been on depression medication since I was 18 that I can’t come off of because I wouldn’t cope”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that “endometriosis is recognised as a pressure area within Gynaecology” but that further investment would be needed to support the provision of specialist care.
They added that “while it is acknowledged that the provision of Endometriosis services in Northern Ireland is an issue that needs addressing, severe budgetary challenges facing the Department mean that it has not been possible to fund service developments in 2022/23”.
The Department also said that at present women who have or are suspected to have cancer are prioritised for surgery, contributing to the delays.
The World Health Organisation estimates that endometriosis affects 10 per cent of women globally.