Norfolk’s menopause support deemed ‘totally unacceptable’

Councillors from Norfolk County Council have slammed the lack of support and treatment given to women experiencing the menopause.

NHS statistics have revealed some women in the county are facing wait times of 70 weeks to receive menopause treatment, with some women having been waiting for more than a year for gynaecology treatment. However, data from the NHS reports not all of the gynaecology appointments are related to menopause.

During a meeting of Norfolk’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, councillors vented their frustration at the situation – including one who herself had been waiting more than a year for an appointment. 

Alison Thomas, Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, said: ‘I am on the waiting list for a gynaecology appointment and have been for a year. People are getting to help far later in the process than potentially they should be.

‘I think there is a lack of knowledge and understanding in some of our GP practices across Norfolk. It is patchy and a bit of a postcode lottery.’

According to NHS England, it is estimated that there are around 13 million people who are currently peri or post-menopausal in the UK, which equates to a third of the entire UK female population.

A report, published by the UK Parliament in July 2022, detailed that MPs are calling for a new Menopause Ambassador to keep women in the workplace. The study found a lack of support and discrimination play key roles in forcing menopausal employees out of the workplace. In a survey of over 2000 women, 67% reported ‘a loss of confidence’ as a result of menopausal symptoms and 70% reported ‘increased stress’.

Norfolk Cllr Penny Carpenter, Chairman of Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, described the care women received as ‘totally unacceptable’.

Ms Carpenter said: ‘I am living proof that menopause lasts years and it does not go away – it still lives with me, and I still carry it and I am sure there are thousands of women like me.

‘It is not acceptable that in 2023, women have to wait, and it is not considered a priority. It is very debilitating.’

Mark Lim, Director of Planned Care at NHS Norfolk, and Waveney claimed there are ‘gaps’ of understanding in delivering the care menopausal women need.

Mr lim claims that whilst the NHS provide free training to specialists to help them better understand menopausal women’s needs and as a way of bridging any ‘gaps’ of knowledge their sector may have, the Director claims the team currently does not monitor the training nor know what the uptake is.  

Despite treatment being stalled for women in Norfolk experiencing the menopause, the county has some support available. Launched last year, Specialist Nurse, Donna Loose, started a ‘Healthy Hormone Hut’ workshop in her back garden, where she helps women one-on-one map out treatment plans that they can they give to their GP.

Additionally, the first menopause café was launched in Norfolk at the beginning of the year, which aims to provide women with a safe space to discuss their menopausal experience with others.

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra


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