Doctors fight to save clinic

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The Independent Online
LEADING gynaecologists are fighting to save a clinic that has helped thousands of women overcome the traumas of the menopause. Staff at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea hospital, in London, have been warned the clinic will close at the end of next month unless more money is found.

The consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Keith Edmunds, who plans to fight for NHS funds to keep the centre open, said: 'We have helped between 30,000 and 40,000 women over the last 12 years . . . This is a very important service. When we started women did not know about hormone replacement therapy.'

Many women suffer distressing symptoms including palpitations, hot flushes and depression when they reach the menopause, usually about the age of 50. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), through implants, pills or patches can alleviate the condition.

Mr Edmunds said that in recent years 'a vast number of women' had sought advice about HRT from GPs. 'If a woman has straightforward problems with the menopause, it can be managed by her doctor. But when it becomes more complicated and there are risk factors, you need expert advice. This will disappear if the NHS doesn't fund us.'

The pioneering clinic has been run with research money from King's College hospital, in south London. Malcolm Whitehead, the hospital's world authority on gynaecological problems, said there are no more funds for the Queen Charlotte's clinic. And he believes the present trends in dealing with women's health are putting back progress 50 years.

Joan Jenkins, founder-president of Women's Health Concern, said: 'Many sufferers were neglected before specialist services became available.'