University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) has launched the NHS’s the first ever menopause passport, as the trust looks to further support the women they employ as they approach the menopause.
The passport enables staff to request a lighter and less cumbersome work uniform, adjustments to their working schedules, and opportunities for fast-tracked advice and help. Along with that, the passport has already helped establish a menopause support group, staff-only Q&A sessions with the trust’s menopause expert, all of which is supported by a network of menopause champions.
With the Birmingham trust employing more than 18,000 women, and since the menopause affects every woman in a completely different and unique way, the passport will help ensure every staff member gets the tailored and specialised support they need.
UHB’s Chief People Officer, Cathi Shovlin, said: “Of the 18,000 women employed at UHB, around 5,000 of those are 50 years old or older; these women are experienced NHS staff. It makes sense that we put time and effort into making sure that they, and future generations, have the support they need to be happy and comfortable at work, ensuring we retain their immense skills and expertise.”
The passport was the brainchild of nurse Wendy Madden, who, after serving the people of Birmingham at UHB for the last 20 years, wanted to use her experience to help women speak openly about their symptoms and get them the support they need.
She said: “The menopause passport came about because I wanted to use my experience to help make sure that women can talk openly, with confidence about their symptoms, and to get the support that they need.
“I was 45 when my symptoms started, at first it was mood swings and irregular periods, it soon progressed into anxiety, brain fog and forgetfulness, and some days I struggled to string a sentence together. Coming to work was a real struggle and when I got home I was so tired I would go straight to bed. I thought all women went through the same thing, so I just didn’t say anything to anybody.
“It wasn’t until the symptoms were so bad, that I felt I had no quality of life that I got help from my doctor. HRT made the world of difference, but I was still missing someone to talk to. It wasn’t long afterwards that I became chair of the Trust’s Women’s Staff Network, and I began work on the passport.”u