NHS England has announced that woman and girls who need sanitary products will be offered free tampons at its hospitals starting this summer.

The British Medical Association (BMA) campaign pointed out that many hospitals provide razors and shaving utilities to men consistently but no sanitary products.

In February, BMA stated that two in every five UK hospital trusts did not provide sanitary supplies to patients who needed them, or only in emergencies.

There are many hospitals that do provide free sanitary products, however, some companies require their patients to buy their own from the hospital shop or, in some cases, have had nothing available at all.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “It’s fundamental that we give patients the best experience possible during what can be a stressful time of their life, and by providing sanitary products the NHS can prevent unnecessary embarrassment and leave people to focus on their recovery.”

The announcement regarding free sanitary supplies was also welcomed by the charity Freedom4Girls, which campaigns against period poverty.

The new announcement would be crucial for NHS mental health trusts where patients, many of them young women, may be living on the wards for an extended stay.

Freedom4Girls founder Tina Leslie said: “This is a great initiative and is a fantastic step forward.

“NHS England have stepped up to the mark and been proactive in ensuring that hospital patients get tampons and sanitary towels.”