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GP practices help to fight period poverty

by Emily Roberts
14 March 2024

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A pilot project involving GP practices that aims to tackle period poverty is being expanded.

Six practices in deprived areas in England have set up ‘period hygiene stations’, making free sanitary products available to patients that need them.

it’s part of a programme jointly developed by the social enterprise, Gift Wellness, whose goal is to eliminate period poverty in Britain by 2025, and healthcare training and advisory company, Qualitas.

Participating practices received an initial stock of free sanitary supplies Gift Wellness but then subsequently worked with the community to to secure additional donated products.

The scheme has been hailed a success, with other practices now being urged to sign up.

Results from a poll of 2,060 people carried out by charity ActionAid in May 2023 showed that around 2.8 million people were struggling to afford period products – equating to 21% of women and people who menstruate (and up from 12% in the previous year).

Those aged 18 to 24 years were most likely to struggle to afford period products, the survey also showed, with more than a quarter (27%) in this age group said they were affected.

The pilot aims to position participating GP practices as ‘community hubs’, fostering engagement with local businesses, who may donate more products, and charitable organisations to connect with those in need.

However, those behind the initiative hope it will also have a broader impact, for example, by improving health outcomes as patients are encouraged to participate in screening and preventative programmes such as smear tests and NHS health checks.

The pilot has so far seen positive results, with all participating practices securing sustainable levels of donated products as well as patients using the products. In some communities, there has been interest in setting up additional stations.

The Thornton Practice, in Blackpool, one of the six pilot sites, said it received positive feedback from patients and the project had sparked ‘wider conversations’ about period poverty with the team.

Dr Zareen Roohi Ahmed, founder and chair of Gift Wellness, said GP practices offer a ‘trusted, reliable location to access free products while bringing awareness about this issue into the community’.

‘We have seen how critical it is that communities join together to address lack of access to period hygiene products,’ she added.

Caroline Hine, head of strategy and Innovation at Qualitas, said: ‘At a time when practices are navigating incredibly high pressure, the commitment to this effort once again demonstrates that the heart of healthcare workers are in the communities that they serve.’

The scheme is open to any practice to join. To find out more about the project email [email protected].