The cost of HRT for women undergoing menopause may soon be reduced and prescriptions made simpler, the Government has announced.
The commitment was agreed in Parliament at the second reading of the Menopause Bill, introduced by Carolyn Harris, Welsh Labour MP for Swansea East.
The cost of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is prescribed to ease symptoms associated with the menopause, will be cut, and will save users of the drug hundreds of pounds a year, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
The Government will work with NHS England to look at implementing longer prescribing cycles, in line with NICE guidelines, to reduce the need to pay frequent prescription charges. It has asked NHS England to review the current barriers to implementing these NICE guidelines.
If this change is implemented, women could only have to pay one charge every 12 months, saving up to £205 a year.
HRT is sometimes classed as two medicines, when it contains the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which means one course of treatment could cost double that of one course of treatment.
As part of the Government-led Women’s Health Strategy, it has pledged to look into combining these two hormone treatments into one prescription, which affects approximately 10% of women accessing HRT.
During the reading, Harris said: ‘Menopause support in this country is falling short and failing women. GP training in medical schools, support in workplaces, public health messaging and curriculum content in our schools all need addressing.’
This is a good step, but more needs to be done, said Maria Caulfield, minister for women’s health.
‘We have heard loud and clear from women across the country and MPs that menopause support is a key issue we as a government need to do more to address.
‘As a woman and a nurse, I am acutely aware of how challenging the symptoms of the menopause can be to live with.
‘Cutting the cost of HRT – which can be a lifeline to women severely impacted by menopause – is a great stride forward, but there is more to do.’
A Government consultation on women’s health policy received a record-breaking 110,000 responses earlier this year.
The Civil Service is developing a ‘workplace menopause policy’ to ensure that those affected by the menopause can continue to work.
In addition, the Government will set up a menopause taskforce, co-chaired by Caulfield and Harris. It will be tasked with considering how education and training, workplace policies and peer groups can support menopausal women.
This week, a study also found HRT reduces a women’s risk of an early death, according to research from the University of East Anglia, despite concerns over increased breast cancer risk, Pulse sister title Nursing in Practice has reported.
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