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Innovating Healthcare: Menopause

Last week Chamber UK, in partnership with IQVIA, held another instalment of the Innovating Healthcare series, focusing on menopause awareness, support, and the solutions available to people experiencing the condition.

The discussion, which was held to commemorate menopause awareness month, was chaired by Professor Mike Bewick, former Deputy National Medical Director, NHS England.  

Professor Bewick was joined by four panellists including:

  • Matthew Cripps, Lead of NHS England’s Menopause Pathway Improvement Programme
  • Suzanne Banks CBE, the Clinical Programme Lead of NHSE/I,
  • Diane Danzebrink, founder of Menopause Support and the #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign
  • Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the Menopause APPG
  • Melinda Morgan – Associate Director, HR Government & Social Value, IQVIA.

In this inquiry, the panel discussed the concentration on women’s health, particularly around menopause and the inequalities surrounding cardiovascular health.

One of the first topics discussed was the importance of focusing on menopause as a general issue for women. Matthew Cripps explained that discussions surrounding menopause are vital because they affect all women, 51% of the population, and about 400,000 women yearly. 

Although menopause is not a medical condition, symptoms are associated with it, and many women who go from perimenopause to menopause do not have access to adequate clinical services.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Banks explained that many programs are geared towards helping women who go through perimenopause and menopause. One of them is looking at using population health and the NICE guidelines in an evidence-based method to support frontline staff, pharmacists, and nurses. According to Suzanne, these professions can help provide support for women at their point of contact so that they can seek help. Another aspect of the program is to provide educational awareness for the NHS workforce because of the significant impact of menopause on women in the NHS.

Diane Danzebrink spoke about the scale of the unmet needs of women who need support, as three out of four women will experience symptoms. However, after contacting their GP, most women are wrongly diagnosed and often told they are too young to experience cognitive or psychological menopausal symptoms. Although there have been significant improvements over the years, Diane argued more awareness should be created among women about perimenopause and menopause before it occurs. She said:

“When cervical screening starts at 25, an ideal opportunity is to start having those conversations, hand out those leaflets at that point, and then consolidate both of those things with a national public health campaign around menopause.”

Carolyn Harris explained the issues surrounding menopause among women had been well received in the Houses of Parliament and have received good responses from all parties.

Equilibrium of menopausal research area

Melinda Morgan, spoke on the well-being of IQVIA’s employees – which is 80,000 across the globe and 5,000 in the UK alone, with more than 60% of them female.

She explained that based on the demographic in the organisation and the number of women in the workplace, these women have their menopausal age around 45+. Also, roughly 10 out of those women will leave the workforce due to the impact of their symptoms, so it is essential to give them all the support they need. It is also important to raise awareness, give people the space, comfort, and confidence to talk about menopause and encourage all their managers to support it and feel comfortable.

Meanwhile, Diane Danzebrink, revealed:

“One of the things we do at Menopause support is to provide education, training, and awareness for businesses and organisations, and we’ve certainly seen more and more interest in that, and I think the general awareness raising that has been done at Grassroots level has been consolidated by having MPs who are interested and those with a public profile who are speaking about their own experiences.”

Mathew Cripps explained a workspace support package was being developed and that he has been talking to the industry regarding what they do about a behavioral change in a person. He said retention targets of 30,000 to 50,000 had been set to avoid losing workers in the NHS.

Carolyn Harris revealed that a statutory menopause policy would not work because there was no one-size-fits-all policy. Still, her employers adequately assisted in a framework for a woman who needed help.

Helpful suggestions

Diane Danzebrink argued the government should create a national menopause awareness campaign. This would include having menopause adverts on TV, radio, trains, and buses and creating a menopause booklet every individual gets before their 40th birthday as a way of helping the condition.

She added that the Government need to factor in premature menopause by discussing cervical screening, including menopause in the RSE curriculum in schools, and providing care and support when needed.

Melinda Morgan spoke on the lack of awareness which means that people don’t realise why they have been prescribed different things a lot of the time and don’t know how to ask for other treatments. She said this was why they try to give their teams more support, resources, and knowledge so that people can better understand the treatments.

Final thoughts

Mathew Cripps talked about maintaining and increasing the efforts towards creating awareness.
Suzanne Banks added it is about population health awareness and an extensive campaign but also about considering that campaign and who they are targeting, not just the middle-class white women who will respond to that.

Melinda Morgan concluded: “It’s not telling employees to do it themselves at all but giving them space, time, and money to do that alongside their employee-driven focus activities, massive public health campaign and encouraging younger people to talk about it.”

Meanwhile, Carolyn Harris explained that she hoped the UK Government would keep its promise of giving free HRT. This is because the cost of living is constantly rising, and women may not prioritise their health for fear of running out of money.

The discussions around Perimenopause and Menopause in women are necessary. Women need to receive all the help they need to overcome a vital phase of their lives.

To watch the discussion in full, see below.

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