NHS hospitals will offer free tampons from the summer

Author: Ingrid Torjesen
NHS hospitals will offer free tampons from the summer

All women and girls being cared for by NHS hospitals will be given, on request, appropriate sanitary products free of charge from this summer, NHS England has announced.

Many hospitals already provide free products, and earlier this month NHS England promised to ensure that every hospital would have to. It has now announced that a requirement to provide sanitary will be mandated in the new standard contract with hospitals for 2019-20.

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, and that should include sanitary products.”

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

The issue was raised by the doctors last year, and since then the British Medical Association (BMA) has undertaken extensive research into the poor provision of sanitary products in hospitals, including Freedom of Information requests to all English hospital trusts. This showed that provision was patchy, despite the relatively small cost of providing sanitary products free of charge.

Chair of the BMA’s Board of Science, Dame Parveen Kumar, said: “The BMA is delighted that NHS England has supported our call for sanitary products to be made freely available for patients, across England from July this year.”

She added: “In taking this step, the NHS has shown that it can lead by example. As well being an important influence in the shift that is necessary towards ending period poverty, this will be a relief for many patients who will no longer face the embarrassment and stress of not being able to freely and easily access sanitary pads and tampons.”

Freedom4Girls founder Tina Leslie, said the announcement was “a fantastic step forward” which was important for breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma around periods.

“When women go into hospital it can be a worry to know what to do if you start your period, but now that worry is taken away as they know they will be catered for,” she said.

The new requirement will mean women and girls receiving treatment in hospitals and other health settings will be able to request pads, pantyliners and tampons when they need them. As well as offering reassurance to anyone needing urgent care unexpectedly, the move also will help those who are in hospital long-term, including mental health inpatients.