Women Speak Up About the Menopause to Commissioners & Service Planners

I recently attended The City & Hackney NHS Community Voices event on the Menopause, as a guest speaker. NHS Community Voices is made up of patient representatives form Patient Participation Groups. PPG’s are meant to represent the patient voice and special interest within each surgery.

The idea for this event came about because one of the Patient Reps raised menopause as an important issue facing women, but that there was very little support currently available to menopausal women. See our previous blogs posts on 12th May & April 21st for more about Fifi who initiated this event. 

The other guest speakers were River Calveley, Programme Manager of Planned Care from NHS City & Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group; Sonia Hall City & Hackney GP Federation; Sandra Watson, Lead Gynaecology Consultant: Homerton Hospital; & Tracey Masters Consultant in Sexual & Reproductive Health: Homerton Hospital. This gave women an opportunity to share their experiences and concerns about menopause support services, with the people who plan and commission services locally.

There were 62 women in attendance all at varying stages of the menopause and reflective of the diverse communities within Hackney. There were 2 men in attendance one a speaker and another gentleman who accompanied his wife. -Good on him! It would be good to see more men coming along to hear the impact that the menopause has on the women, the strains on their relationships and self esteem.

There were many stories and experiences shared. There was a woman of 62 who had been on HRT for over 15years, 10 years longer that the recommended period! Unfortunately hers is a very common story.

Some of the recommendations that were put forward included:

  • To offer women longer GP consultations to discuss issues about the menopause
  • To make menopause awareness part of the 40+ NHS Health Checks
  • Bring back Well Women Clinics so that women have somewhere to go where health professionals are informed about women’s health issues
  • Provide more information about the menopause in a range of formats to suit the range of needs. In particular more user friendly information about HRT
  • Offer educational and support workshops so that women have an opportunity to be more informed about the menopause and non-medicated ways of managing menopause symptoms
    Incentivise GP’s to ask women of peri/menopausal age questions to identify menopausal health risks as part of routine visits. Also to to use their EMIS software system, which has existing Menopause Templates to collect data and initiate prevention strategies

What was sad about the event was that of the 62 women in attendance not one had a positive experience to share about visiting their GP for support. This really helped to bring it home to the other guest speakers what an important issue this is for women. The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE), acknowledges that menopause advice and clinical support isn’t consistent across the country and in places is very poor. They currently have a document at consultation stage for a new menopause treatment model. This can be viewed here: NICE Menopause Draft Guildlines You can have your say about the guideline by contacting us or any other organisation registered as a NICE stakeholder.

Hopefully if some of the above recommendations are put in place this will turn around peri/menopausal women’s experience of seeking advice and support from their health professionals.

This blog was written by by Eileen Bellot Managing Director of Hands Inc www.handsinc.co.uk

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