Employees experiencing menopause symptoms will be able to access cheaper hormone replacement therapy (HRT) under a new government scheme, which could potentially help alleviate their symptoms at work.
From 1 April 2023, women prescribed HRT will be able to access a year’s treatment for the cost of two single prescription charges (currently £18.70).
They will be able to apply for a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) which will be valid for 12 months and can be used against a range of HRT prescription items including patches, tablets and creams. There will be no limit on how many times the PPC can be used while it is valid.
Menopause symptoms vary between individuals, and many people find managing their symptoms at work challenging. A survey by the British Menopause Society found that 45% of women felt that menopausal symptoms – which can include hot flushes, headaches and fatigue – had a negative impact on their work.
Menopause resources for OH professionals
CPD: Menopause – the occupational health practitioner’s role (on-demand webinar)
Last month the government rejected the suggestion that menopause should be made a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, stating that it is already covered under the protected characteristics of sex, age and disability.
Around 15% of women aged 45 to 64 in England are currently prescribed HRT, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Many campaigners have suggested that access to cheaper menopause treatment would help women who feel their symptoms are debilitating.
Minister for women, Maria Caufield, said: “Around three-quarters of women will experience menopause symptoms, with a quarter experiencing severe symptoms – which can seriously impact their quality of life. Reducing the cost of HRT is a huge moment for improving women’s health in this country.”
The cheaper menopause treatment scheme was welcomed by Kathy Abernethy, chief nursing officer and director of menopause services at health and wellbeing app Peppy, who said using HRT was just one way of reducing the impact of menopause symptoms at work.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Janet Lindsay, CEO of charity Wellbeing of Women, said that improving access to HRT was “absolutely the right thing to do and will help to empower women”.
“HRT is a first-line treatment for women who may need help with managing menopause symptoms which can be debilitating,” she said.