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Act now to tackle unmet need: Newson Health responds to Menopause All-Party Parliamentary Group report

Act now to tackle unmet need: Newson Health responds to Menopause All-Party Parliamentary Group report

MPs call for women to be invited for menopause check when they turn 45, and the scrapping of HRT prescription charges in England

The menopause is a life event that millions of UK women experience.

Yet for too long, too many women have struggled on in silence without access to information and have been denied access to evidence-based treatment.

While awareness of the perimenopause and menopause is undoubtedly growing, urgent action is needed to achieve equitable menopause care for all.

The Menopause All-Party Parliamentary Group report is the culmination of an inquiry which listened to the voices of healthcare professionals, support organisations, campaign groups and crucially, of women themselves, and we welcome the findings.

Published today, the findings of the report make for sobering reading, and sadly reinforce what we at Newson Health know all too well: women are facing barriers to good menopause care that leave them feeling frustrated, unheard and for some, soldiering on with severe symptoms that impact their careers, home life and relationships.

The MPs report highlighted a Newson Health survey of over 5,000 women that found while 79% had visited their GP about symptoms, only 37% were given HRT, whereas 23% were given antidepressants, against NICE guidelines. Some 44% of women who eventually received treatment had to wait for a year or more, but 12% had waited more than five years.

It also highlighted a different Newson Health survey of over 1,000 women which found a third (39%) were paying between £51-150 a year on HRT, while a fifth (20%) were paying over £150 a year.

The report makes 13 wide-ranging recommendations for the government, NHS and other bodies to initiate change and dispel the long-held taboo around the menopause, including to:

  • Urgently scrap prescription costs for HRT in England, as is the case in all the devolved nations
  • Implement a health check for all women at 45 to help diagnose menopause at an earlier stage
  • Fund new research into the real benefits of HRT and the link between menopause and serious health conditions
  • Co-ordinate an employer-led campaign and improve guidance to drive up support for menopause in the workplace
  • Create a national formulary for HRT and include menopause in the GP quality and outcomes Framework to improve menopause diagnosis and treatment
  • Provide updated menopause training for GPs and other healthcare professionals who did not receive it in the past, in addition to the forthcoming medical assessment for incoming doctors

This report should not be filed away, but instead used as the springboard and evidence base for real, meaningful change.

We urge policy makers, healthcare organisations, education institutions and employers to sit up, take notice, and adopt these recommendations as a matter of urgency to safeguard women’s health now and in the future.

New research, better menopause education and widening access to HRT makes financial sense, both for the NHS and the wider economy.

For the NHS, scrapping HRT prescription charges in England would involve a short-term cost outlay, yet wider access to HRT would reap the benefits for management of menopausal symptoms and reduce unnecessary and costly investigations for symptoms such as headaches and joint pain. In addition, HRT offers long term health benefits against conditions such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

And for businesses, better workplace support would see women thriving in careers.

A 2021 Newson Health survey of 3,800 women found 59% had taken time off work due to their symptoms: 18% were off more than eight weeks. And new research from the balance menopause support app estimates the cost a lack of menopause awareness and support is costing the UK economy close to £10 billion.

As a society we have the opportunity now to change women’s lives and their health for the better, now and in the future.

Women deserve to be listened to, educated and supported. This is an opportunity that must be seized with both hands.

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