UK to provide cheaper and easier access to therapies under menopause taskforce Representational image (iStock)
THE UK has set up a new menopause taskforce to help women to get cheaper and easier access to Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT) to relieve symptoms of menopause.
The action was taken following commitments made in Parliament at the second reading of Carolyn Harris MPs’ private members’ bill. The taskforce will be co-chaired by the minister for women’s health Maria Caulfield and Harris MP, a statement said.
The task force will consider the role of education and training, workplace policies and peer groups for menopausal women can play in supporting women, it added.
The government will look to implement longer prescribing cycles, in line with national institute for health and care excellence (NICE) guidelines, so women receive fewer prescriptions, reducing the need to pay frequent prescription charges.
NHS England will review current practice and the barriers to implementing NICE guidelines.
According to the statement, women would only have to pay one charge for up to a 12 month supply of HRT, saving up to £205 per year.
The government will also look into combining two hormone treatments into one prescription, which affects around 10 per cent of women accessing HRT.
Now, HRT is sometimes classed as two medicines if it contains both Oestrogen and Progesterone so women may be charged twice for one course of treatment.
“As a woman and a nurse, I am acutely aware of how challenging the symptoms of menopause can be to live with. Cutting the cost of HRT – which can be a lifeline to women severely impacted by menopause – is a great stride forward, but there is more to do,” said Caulfield.
“I look forward to further addressing menopause as part of the women’s health strategy and working with Carolyn on improving support for women across the UK.”
The government said that menopause will form a central part of the first-ever women’s health strategy, and will consider how to improve access to HRT including through education and training for clinicians on symptoms of menopause and to ensure HRT is being prescribed to women who would benefit from it.
“The Bill was never about wins for either side of the political divide – it was about wins the 51 per cent of the population who will directly experience menopause. The cost of HRT NHS prescriptions will be slashed – with the government committing to working towards getting this down to a single prescription charge per year – and the new task force will look at all the other areas of support that are currently falling short and failing women,” said Harris MP.
“I look forward to working with the Minister to revolutionise menopause support in this country and being world leaders in changing the narrative on something that has been a taboo subject for far too long.”
Besides, the civil service is developing their first workplace menopause policy to ensure women can continue to work to their full potential, the statement further said.