Improvements to the recognition and diagnosis of patients with thyroid conditions is set to take a big step forward .
The importance of the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee was shown on Thursday 29th March when the petition which first raised this issue with MSPs in 2013 resulted in a comprehensive report and calls for action .
Johann Lamont MSP the Convener of the Petitions Committee, said:
“The experiences brought to light by this petition are simply unimaginable. The daily struggle against constant pain, depression and uncertainty is difficult enough, but for this to be compounded by not being believed by those in a position of trust is unacceptable.
“The majority of those affected by this illness are women. And it is sadly unsurprising to hear that the complaints and pleas of so many women have gone unheard. It is part of a wider issue of health problems affecting women not having been taken seriously.
“This has to stop. We have to listen to patients and patients must have confidence that they will be believed. That is why we have called for a national testing protocol as well as more research to ensure that patients are treated as individuals and not just symptoms on a page.”
When a petition is accepted by the Committee to take forward evidence is gathered with research and consultations take place. This particular one wanted a number of changes to the diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of Thyroxine, a hormone important for regulating the body’s metabolism. Low levels of Thyroxine can result in symptoms such as tiredness, weight gain and depression. It is estimated that 3.7% of patients registered with a GP practice in Scotland have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism , resulting in an estimated 103,000 people being seen annually by either a GP or practice nurse. SPICe
The Committee now wish for there to be a “clear, single protocol for testing to be applied for the whole of Scotland.” The report they have produced makes recommendations for consideration by the Scottish Government and other decision makers. The Committee also would like consistent advice to primary care practitioners available for use when considering and interpreting diagnostic tests for suspected hypothyroidism.