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Closed petition Fund menopause awareness training for Practice Nurses

Although a natural event in a woman’s life, many women struggle during menopause. 75% of women experience menopausal symptoms, which can last up to 7 years. They can be debilitating and impact on relationships, work and wellbeing. Symptoms are often attributed to other causes and remain untreated.

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As primary care is largely the first point of contact for patients, it is imperative that Practice Nurses have the knowledge and skills to support women through menopause. Menopause awareness training will allow nurses to provide women with safe and reliable information and treatment options. Furthermore, training will lessen the burden on the NHS, by reducing misdiagnosis and the risk of menopause-related long-term conditions.

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Government responded

This response was given on 21 September 2023

Whilst Government has no plans to fund menopause awareness training for Practice Nurses specifically, the NHS England menopause programme is improving menopause education for healthcare professionals.

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Menopause is a priority area within the Women’s Health Strategy: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/womens-health-strategy-for-england/womens-health-strategy-for-england. The strategy was published last year and sets out the Government’s plans for boosting women’s health outcomes and improving how the health and care system listens to women and girls.

Whilst the Government has no current plans to fund menopause training for practice nurses specifically, the Government and NHS England are implementing a programme of work to improve menopause care so all women can access the support they need.

The NHS England National Menopausal Care Improvement Programme is working to improve clinical menopause care in England. The programme has worked with a range of healthcare professions such as GPs, nurses, pharmacists and specialists to develop an optimal pathway for treatment of menopause symptoms in primary care which will be tested within integrated care systems by the end of March 2024. The programme is also developing an education and training package on menopause for healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals including practice nurses also have access to NHS workforce guidance (published November 2022) and an NHS e-learning module for Health Menopause Awareness (launched March 2023) to deepen their menopause awareness.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) sets the standards of education, training, conduct and performance for nurses and midwives in the UK and nursing associates in England. While these standards shape the content and design of programmes, so that upon completion students can join the professional register, they do not outline the specific educational curricula. Approved education institutions which train nurses set their own nursing curriculum, which needs to meet the NMC standards.

The Royal College of Nursing has produced a number of resources, including menopause guidance for nurses, midwives and health visitors (https://www.rcn.org.uk/Professional-Development/publications/rcn-menopause-guidance-for-nurses-midwives-and-health-visitors-uk-pub-009326); and guidance on the nurse specialist in menopause role (https://www.rcn.org.uk/Professional-Development/publications/nurse-specialist-in-menopause-uk-pub-010-335).

The menopause is a core competency of all qualified GPs, as there is a specific section in the GP curricula, on women's health, including the menopause. This is set by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). The RCGP has worked with the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to develop a Women’s Health Library (https://elearning.rcgp.org.uk/course/index.php?categoryid=57), which brings together educational resources and guidelines on women’s health to ensure GPs and other primary healthcare professionals have the most up-to-date advice to provide the best care for their patients. The library includes a section on menopause which covers areas such as incontinence, prolapse and general topics related to menopause, as well as menopause management resources.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is updating their guideline on menopause diagnosis and management, including on the long-term risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and expect to publish the updated guideline in January 2024.

The Government is taking further action to improve access to menopause care and HRT. We are investing £25 million in the expansion of women’s health hubs, to enable better access to high quality care for essential women’s health services, including menstrual problems, contraception, menopause and more.

The UK Menopause Taskforce brings together Ministers and clinical experts from across the UK to improve menopause care. The taskforce met in September 2023 to discuss on menopause education for healthcare professionals.

In April the Government introduced a HRT prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC), which enables women to pay less than £20 for all their HRT prescriptions for a year. Between 1 April and 31 August, 377,024 HRT PPCs were purchased. There are over 70 HRT products and the overall HRT supply position is improved, with the vast majority of these in good supply. The Government continues to work closely with suppliers to resolve limited supply issues and ensure relevant information is shared across the NHS on a regular basis.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has made significant investments into research on menopause. This includes a £1.9 million study to develop treatments for postmenopausal women, and a £2.2 million randomised control trial looking at the effectiveness of different hormone treatments for women with premature ovarian insufficiency. The NIHR has also recently held a call for further research into testosterone as a treatment for menopause symptoms.

Department of Health and Social Care

MPs debate a motion on Menopause

On Thursday 26 October, Peter Dowd MP opened a debate in Parliament on menopause. During the debate, MPs discussed the challenges of menopause, raising awareness among medical professionals and access to treatment.

What are backbench business debates?

Backbench business debates give backbenchers (MPs who aren’t ministers or shadow ministers) an opportunity to secure a debate on a topic of their choice, either in the Chamber or Westminster Hall.

MPs can make a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee, who hears and decides which debates to schedule.

Backbench debates can either be general debates (which do not end in a vote) or be on a substantive motion (which calls for an action and can end in a vote). This debate was a general debate.

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