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Date posted: 6th February 2023
In January campaigners for having the cost of repeatable hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions cut achieved a victory in a move that is set to save women who rely on HRT hundreds of pounds each year.
Following commitments made in Parliament at the second reading of Carolyn Harris MP’s private members’ bill, women will benefit from cheaper and easier access to HRT to relieve symptoms of the menopause. Working with NHS England, the Government will look to implement longer prescribing cycles, in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, so women receive fewer prescriptions, reducing the need to pay frequent prescription charges. This could mean women would only have to pay one charge for up to a 12-month supply of HRT, saving up to £205 per year as a result. To further improve access to HRT prescriptions, the Government has also committed to look into combining two hormone treatments into one prescription, which affects approximately 10% of women accessing HRT as under current rules HRT is sometimes classed as two medicines if it contains both oestrogen and progesterone meaning women may be charged twice for one course of treatment.
However, when it comes to menopause, sadly it is not all good news. Ministers have rejected a proposal from the Women and Equalities Committee to introduce ‘Menopause Leave’ pilots to support those going through the menopause. Whilst an obvious disappointment, there is still hope that a review of whether the menopause might become a protected characteristic, like maternity and pregnancy, in the future may still (one day) be realised.
For now, employers must continue to demonstrate their duty of care by supporting their employers who may be going through menopause. With almost one in two women (45%) feeling their menopause symptoms had a negative impact on their work, the decision not to create new rights to protect female workers from discrimination or harassment relating to menopause is disappointing. However, although menopause will not be a standalone protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 for now, employers are wise to remember that affected employees are still covered under existing protected characteristics (directly or indirectly) – especially sex, age and disability.
If you would like further support or information with managing menopause in the workplace or if you have any other HR ‘hot topic’ you would like to discuss with us, please call today on 01245-204450 or email us on HR@kingswoodgroup.org.
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