Report on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause Inquiry
In October the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause (the APPG), published their findings from their inquiry assessing the impacts of menopause and the case for policy reform.
Chaired by the leading parliamentary campaigner Carolyn Harris MP, the 28-page document was the final report following a year-long inquiry into the subject.
Menopause symptoms can have a profound impact on women’s lives, be it from being unable to get the right diagnosis, the right treatment or accessing HRT. Lack of support from employers while struggling at work or simply not being able to recognise what is happening to them.
The findings show that despite the fact that 51% of the population will experience menopause, the support for the 13 million women currently going through perimenopause or menopause is completely inadequate, and it is still an entrenched taboo subject.
The study found that women themselves were often not equipped with the information they needed to understand what is happening. Menopause is more than just hot flushes and forgetfulness, the taboo that has been endured about menopause impacts the experiences women have in the workplace and wider society.
A worrying part of the inquiry highlighted the misconceptions about HRT in both women and medical professionals. Highlighting that even with clear guidance from NICE about the usage of guidelines for the use of HRT, many women are not being offered HRT by doctors due to misconception. The recommendation is to make HRT free to all women on prescription in England.
It is the reports finding that women face a postcode lottery on whether they can access the correct treatment from their GP that is concerning.
There have been 13 recommendations for the Government, NHS and other bodies to initiate change and dispel the long-held taboo around menopause, including:
- 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.
The hope from the results of the inquiry and its wider campaigning efforts is that support for women and others going through menopause will be vastly improved, and younger women, girls, and the rest of the population will not grow up in ignorance of what menopause is.
Already we are beginning to see a change in public perceptions as a dialogue around menopause has already begun within the country, however, this is just the start.
For more information read the full APPG Menopause Inquiry Report