Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust spent less than £250 on sanitary products for patients in 12 months

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust spent less than 250 on sanitary products for patients in 12 months
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust spent less than 250 on sanitary products for patients in 12 months

The Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust spent less than £250 on sanitary products for female patients in 12 months, new figures show.

The British Medical Association said "poor and inconsistent" provision of tampons and sanitary pads was having a detrimental impact on the dignity and wellbeing of patients across the country.

It welcomed a recent pledge by NHS England to provide sanitary products free of charge for menstruating patients.

In the 12 months to March 2018, the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust spent £231.64 on sanitary products, according to a Freedom of Information request.

In total, the trust purchased 541 packs of sanitary products, all of them pads.

Across England, 173 NHS trusts reported spending a combined total of £129,062 on sanitary products for patients during the same period.

However, at least 17 trusts – between them accounting for £53,354 of the total spend – also counted products provided to new mothers on maternity wards, meaning the total spent catering for menstruating women could be far lower.

From July, all NHS providers will have to provide tampons, sanitary pads and pantyliners to women and girls who request them, following a campaign by the BMA.

The new policy will cover both emergency and long-term patients being treated in hospitals, mental health facilities and other health settings.

The Royal College of Nursing said it welcomed the move, pointing out that hospitals already provided male patients with free razors.

Stephanie Aiken, associate director of nursing, said: "This new 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.

“Being in hospital in the first place, especially unexpectedly, can be a distressing experience for anybody, and women and girls should not have the added worry of ensuring they have an adequate supply of sanitary products."

Of the NHS trusts which responded to the FOI request, just two said they had a formal policy concerning the provision of sanitary products to women. There is currently no formal policy in place at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.

Sanitary products are made available to purchase in either shops or vending machines at the trust's sites.

BMA medical students committee member, Eleanor Wilson, said: "When patients are under our care in the NHS, we need to make sure they feel as welcome and looked after as possible.

"Providing them, freely, with sanitary protection – simple but key to their health and wellbeing – is vital to their sense of self-worth.

“It may seem like a small change but for hundreds of thousands of patients and the staff who care for them, it’s a big step forward in providing compassionate care."

Simon Stevens, chief executive for NHS England, said: “It is absolutely right that everyone has access to the essentials of daily life during their time in hospital.

"By providing sanitary products the NHS can prevent unnecessary embarrassment and leave people to focus on their recovery.”