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Campaigners Are Calling For Endometriosis To Be Classed As A Disability

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Campaigners Are Calling For Endometriosis To Be Classed As A Disability

Campaigners are calling for the government to recognise that endometriosis can be a disability.

Endometriosis is a debilitating disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb begins to grow in other places, for example the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.

It affects one in 10 women of reproductive age and takes - on average - eight years to get a diagnosis.

On Wednesday, a debate on 'supporting people with endometriosis in the workplace' took place at Westminster Hall. It was led by Alec Shelbrooke - MP for Elmet and Rothwell - and a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Endometriosis.

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During the debate, Mr Shelbrooke urged the Department of Work and Pension to recognise that endometriosis can be a disability.

You can watch a clip below:

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"If you were to say the names of women who suffer from endometriosis for 24 hours a day it would take you over 40 days," Mr Shelbrooke explained.

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"... I've got five asks for the minister today. One, promote the endometriosis-friendly employer scheme; two, work with other departments of government to interact with the menopause task force and the shocking lack of support for women with fertility problems; three, get the DWP to recognise that endometriosis can be a disability; four, ensure employers fully understand the equality act to protect endometriosis sufferers in the workplace; five, create a scheme to promote endometriosis-friendly employers."

The debate was led by Alec Shelbrooke (Credit: Twitter)
The debate was led by Alec Shelbrooke (Credit: Twitter)

Although not everyone with endometriosis finds that it impacts their day-to-day work, others have such severe symptoms that it can be impossible to meet certain requirements within the workplace.

For this reason, during the debate, MPs also discussed taking sick leave when needed; having more frequent access to the toilet; time off for medical appointments, surgery and recovery; asking employers for adjustments in work patterns and ad hoc flexible working and welfare benefits relating to endometriosis meeting the definition of a disability.

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Endometriosis is not currently classed as a disability, yet 40 per cent of those suffering worry about losing their job and 54 per cent say it has reduced their income.

One in six women with endometriosis have been forced to give up work.

One in six women with endometriosis have been forced to give up work (Credit: Shutterstock)
One in six women with endometriosis have been forced to give up work (Credit: Shutterstock)

Discussing on Twitter, one person wrote: "My wife lives with #endometriosis and yet her illness isn’t recognised as a disability in the UK because unlike other chronic conditions, it should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. When #endo interferes with work, you find yourself trapped."

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While another said: "I suffered from this horrific disease aged 13 to 38. Multiple abdominal surgeries, treatments & removal of womb/ovaries aged 38, 13 yrs ago. I suffered disability discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjustments etc.

"Employers must do more & learn more about Endo. Flexible working hours & more awareness would help."

For help, support and advice, visit Endometriosis UK.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Endometriosis, Health, News

Lucy Devine
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