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14 August 2023

Theramex’s statement on the Women’s Health Strategy’s (WHS) one year anniversary

Recent years have seen a rise in conversations and calls for action to improve women’s health. We have witnessed the beginning of a cultural shift, including the publication of the Women’s Health Strategy (WHS) one year ago. Household names like Davina McCall and Dame Kelly Holmes have helped to reduce taboos in discussing menopause, however without action, these strategies and conversations will not make tangible change.

There is still a huge distance to go before we can say England is on track for delivering on the 10-year ambitions of the WHS, but progress has been made. The strategy intends that in 10 years, ‘women can access high-quality, personalised menopause care within primary care and, if needed, specialist care in a timely manner, and disparities in access to menopause treatment [will be] reduced.’ We’re encouraged by the government’s new Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT) prescription prepayment certificate1, as a step in the right direction towards reducing the inequalities in menopause care across the country. There are of course, areas where progress is still required. Despite more HRTs being available than ever before, we’re still seeing discrepancies in access depending on where a person lives, creating an HRT ‘postcode lottery,’ with large unmet need of menopause care in areas of deprivation2.

The publication of the WHS was a step forward and much-needed recognition of the work to be done to improve standards of care for women’s health in the England. We would like to see the Government take further steps to improve these standards and reduce disparities of care, including by accepting the Women and Equalities Committee’s proposal for a national formulary for HRT3. National formularies list approved medicines, indicating which products are interchangeable. They can reduce bureaucracy amongst healthcare professionals and reduce waiting times for access to medicine. The decision to reject the proposal will negatively impact women by incurring further delays in receiving treatment.

The government also included the expansion of Women’s Health Hubs (WHHs) as one of its top priorities for the first year of implementing the WHS. It is a positive step that the Government has announced £25 million to accelerate the development of new hubs4. To progress the expansion of the Hubs further, the publication of a plan elaborating on this acceleration would be welcome so that women can understand when they will be able to access their health needs through a hub. Hubs have been established in some Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), but there is still more work to be done to meet the Strategy’s aim of there being a hub in every ICS.

At Theramex we are passionate about championing equal access to menopause care in the UK and empowering women to make informed decisions about their health. In the next year, we would like to see light shed on the disparities in HRT treatment, with action from the Department of Health and Social Care to reduce such disparities. We encourage the government to work with industry to further progress the WHS in a timely manner so that women do not miss out on care. We stand ready to collaborate to give women the best possible outcomes.

References:

  1. UK, 2023, New scheme for cheaper hormone replacement therapy launches. Available at : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-scheme-for-cheaper-hormone-replacement-therapy-launches [Last accessed: July 2023]
  2. Hillman et al. Socioeconomic status and HRT prescribing: a study of practice-level data in England. Br J Gen Pract. 2020 Nov; 70(700): e772–e777.
  3. Women and Equalities Committee, 2022, Menopause and the workplace. Available at: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/23281/documents/169819/default/ [Last accessed: July 2023]
  4. UK, 2023, £25 million for women’s health hub expansion. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/25-million-for-womens-health-hub-expansion [Last accessed: July 2023]

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