A scheme to reduce prescription costs may soon provide less expensive menopause treatment to hundreds of thousands of women. Beginning April 1, 2023, women who have been prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease the menopause can get a full year of care for less than £20.
The Department of Health, in a statement released on Tuesday (February 21), says the new scheme will allow up to 400,000 women in England to make a one-off payment for 12 months of HRT, saving them hundreds of pounds a year.
The scheme says a patient can use this against an unlimited number of HRT items, such as patches, tablets and topical preparations and there will be no limit to how many times the certificate can be used while it is valid.
Women will also be able to apply for the prepayment certificate through the NHS Business Services through NHS Business Services Authority or in person at pharmacies registered to sell the certificates.
The announcement comes in wake of the publication of the government’s women’s health strategy for England last summer, which sets out a new agenda for improving the health and wellbeing of women and girls.
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, and I am proud to be announcing this momentous step forward. In our Women’s Health Strategy, we made menopause a top priority – by making HRT more accessible, we’re delivering on our commitment to women.”
According to the Department of Health, around 15% of women aged 45-64 in England are currently prescribed HRT, which has increased rapidly in the last two years from around 11% and continues to increase.
It also said it engages with suppliers on a weekly basis and closely monitors the supply of HRT as well as hosting quarterly meetings with industry players to ensure a continuous supply of HRT.
What is menopause and what does HRT do?
According to the NHS, menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. It can sometimes happen earlier naturally or for reasons such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy), cancer treatments like chemotherapy, or a genetic reason.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment to relieve symptoms of the menopause. It replaces hormones that are at a lower level as you approach the menopause. The main benefit of HRT is that it can help relieve most of the menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive.
How to get support
Many women find the menopause to be an emotionally and physically trying time, so it’s important to know that there are a variety of resources available to support you during this transition.
One of the first steps to getting support for menopause is to talk to your healthcare provider. According to the NHS, a GP, nurse or pharmacist can give you advice and help with your menopause or perimenopause symptoms.
There are also menopause specialists who have experience in supporting anyone going through perimenopause and menopause. You can also find your nearest NHS or private menopause specialist on the British Menopause Society website.