HRT costs being cut: an opportunity for employers to start the conversation on menopause support

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Hardly a day goes by without menopause being in the news. Whether it’s linked to speculation around Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation, the disappearance of Nicola Bulley or the government’s decision not to introduce ‘Menopause Leave’ pilots to support those going through the menopause.

Menopause is in the news again this week with the UK government’s announcement yesterday that from 1 April 2023, women prescribed HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) – the main treatment for menopause symptoms – will have access to a new scheme enabling access to a year’s worth of menopause prescription items for the cost of 2 single prescription charges (currently £18.70).

The introduction of this scheme is designed to deliver one of the government’s year 1 priorities for the Women’s Health Strategy for England. Published last summer, the strategy sets out an ambitious agenda for improving the health and wellbeing of women and girls and to improve how the health and care system listens to women. Menopause was announced as a priority area within the strategy.

Commenting on the new HRT scheme Kathy Abernethy, Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Menopause services, Peppy said:

“We welcome the price cuts for HRT: cost should not be a prohibitor of women accessing the treatment they need. However, HRT is just one tool in the armoury for effectively supporting women through menopause.

“We know that while every woman will experience menopause, not all symptoms are the same – so providing a rounded support for women is really important.

“Employers can  play a pivotal role in providing access to specialist support through workplace health and wellbeing benefits, offering women a route to getting the vital advice and help they need. This can include access to expert support and guidance on how to manage symptoms day to day, options for treatment and what’s right for them, as well as support for wider health and wellbeing. Support needs to be provided by human menopause specialists, and personalised for the individual’s specific needs.

“Today’s announcement is a good opportunity for employers to recognise the importance of their role in providing this support and start the conversation in their organisation.”

Thinking outside the HRT box

Echoing Abernethy’s thinking, in this article, we are reminded that Vitality’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Anushka Patchava, stresses the importance of balance when women are going through the menopause.

The article outlines four key menopause self care tips including the need to:

  • Prioritise sleep
  • Take time for your mental health
  • Eat the right foods
  • Reach out and get support

Whether you’re an advocate of HRT or not, the more menopause becomes a mainstream topic of conversation for employers, the easier it should be for women to talk openly about and navigate this challenging stage of life without fear of judgement. What we must avoid at all costs though, when bringing this topic to the fore in the workplace, is the danger of reinforcing sexist stereotypes.

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