Proposed law would make HRT free on prescription for women

NHS prescriptions for therapy are already free in Scotland and Wales but Labour MP Carolyn Harris is campaigning for the charges to be dropped in England

Holly Bancroft
Sunday 03 October 2021 20:35
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<p>HRT is the most common treatment prescribed by GPs for menopausal women</p>

HRT is the most common treatment prescribed by GPs for menopausal women

Menopausal women treated with hormone replacement therapy would not have to pay for their prescriptions under a proposed law.

HRT is available on prescription in England for £9.35 a time but Labour MP Carolyn Harris is hoping to abolish the charges, The Sunday Times reported.

Ms Harris said that she had enough support for a private member’s bill to change legislation. The bill will receive its second reading this month.

NHS prescriptions for HRT are already free in Scotland and Wales and the therapy is used to top up levels of womens’ oestrogen and progesterone hormones during menopause.

Many of the 3.4m women aged between 50 and 64 in the UK will experience symptoms of the menopause, with side effects including heart palpitations, hot flushes, anxiety and depression. The average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51, according to the NHS.

Many women are prescribed hormone replacement therapy for five years or longer, and treatments can often add up to thousands of pounds, The Independent’has previously reported.

Carolyn Harris MP said that she was “extremely confident” MPs would back her bill, adding: “We have the numbers. I have so much support from across the House of Commons and I am very confident we will get this bill passed.

“Is this government really prepared to let women in England suffer if they can’t afford to treat the symptoms of their menopause, while women in Wales and Scotland get access to their medications for free? Talk about doing English women a disservice.”

She told The Sunday Times: “There are so many people out there who are not prepared for this and they don’t imagine it’s going to be as awful as it is.”

The bill will go before MPs on 29 October/

A Department of Health source said: “If we make HRT free for everyone who wants it, where does that stop, especially given that a large number of women on HRT get free prescriptions anyway.

“We think the problem is more complex - for example, doctors not recognising the impact on women during the perimenopause.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “The menopause affects half our population and is a huge concern to women across the country. The impact can be very difficult to live with and it’s crucial this is taken seriously and women get the support they need.

“We’re deeply committed to ensuring those who want access to HRT get it and are taking immediate steps to drive women’s health to the top of the agenda through the first government-led women’s health strategy for England.”

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