RCGP Conference: Adequate menopause treatment reduces stretched resources
This month saw the return of the RCGP conference in London and NHMS presented recent findings showing effective menopause care can reduce the need for referrals and other medications.
Founder of NHMS, Dr Louise Newson, supported by Dr Rebecca Lewis and NHMS Director, Lucy Chatwin presented three academic posters at the conference this week, based on recent online surveys to thousands of women.
The authors shared more detail on how the right menopause treatment can reduce the number of referrals needed to secondary care and reduce the need for other medications. Symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause are many and varied and can often be attributed to other causes (by both patients and their healthcare professionals), particularly if the patient is not experiencing vasomotor symptoms or is still having periods. Referrals are common to other specialties, and this can result in prescribing of non-hormonal medication to treat symptoms that have a hormonal cause. Patients often consult with multiple healthcare professionals before their perimenopause or menopause is diagnosed and treated.
An online survey was created and questions included asking how many healthcare professionals (HCPs) had been seen about symptoms of peri/menopause in the year before attending a specialist menopause clinic and being given hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Women who were taking HRT following seeing a menopause specialist were also asked how many other HCPs they consulted for their symptoms. They were also asked whether there had been a change to the number of other medications they took since starting their HRT.
Out of 1171 responses, 16.6% of women had consulted more than 6 different HCPs in the year before starting HRT whereas this reduced to only 2% of women in the year after starting HRT. In addition, 14.6% of women were able to reduce the dose or number of non-HRT medications they were taking in the first 12 months of receiving HRT.
The authors concluded:
“The NICE menopause guidelines are clear that there are many benefits of taking HRT and these outweigh any risks for the majority of women. Healthcare resources are being spent inappropriately on unnecessary appointments in primary and secondary care as well as many needless investigations. A large proportion of perimenopausal and menopausal women are given unnecessary medication for their symptoms which can be stopped when they take HRT. HRT is a cost effective, safe and clinically effective treatment for the majority of women and initiating HRT promptly will save the NHS money and time as well as improving the future health of women.”