Madelaine McTernan has been appointed as the Head of the newly formed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Taskforce, as the government continue to tackle issues in the supply chain.
McTernan is the current Vaccine Taskforce Director General and will try and emulate the successful approach to vaccine supply in regard to the HRT supply issues.
Additional members of the Vaccine Taskforce will be redeployed to support the HRT taskforce whilst the government doubles down its efforts to ensure women can access high quality menopause treatment, including HRT, which is a lifeline for women who are experiencing severe symptoms.
Vaccine Taskforce Director General Madelaine McTernan said: “We will apply the key learnings from the successful way the Vaccine Taskforce have procured life-saving vaccines during the pandemic to help ensure women have reliable ongoing access to these critical medicines.”
Demand for HRT has dramatically risen with a 38% increase in the number of prescription items over the last seven years as there is greater awareness around menopause and GPs are more confident in prescribing.
Minister for Women’s Health Maria Caulfield said: “It’s great we’ve seen demand for HRT rise so much over the last year as it means women are accessing the right support. HRT can help women manage severe, sometimes debilitating, symptoms of the menopause, allowing them to stay in workplaces and live more normal lives.”
She added: “I want all women to feel empowered to speak to their GP about whether HRT would be appropriate for them, and for GPs to feel confident in prescribing. The new Taskforce will play a vital role engaging with suppliers, stakeholders and across government to make sure every avenue is explored to ensure all women who want HRT can access it.”
The new HRT Taskforce will be responsible for:
- Engaging with HRT suppliers to ensure there is a good understanding of supply constraints, what is being or can be done to address them in the short and long term.
- Working with NHS Business Service Authority to secure access to real time HRT dispensing data in order to improve understanding of supply, demand and what is driving shortages.
- Engaging with professional bodies including the Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee to support pharmacists and prescribers to ensure they respond appropriately to increased demand.
In the recent call for evidence to inform the upcoming Women’s Health Strategy, menopause was the third most selected topic that respondents picked for inclusion in the plan, with 48% of respondents selecting this as a priority.
The government are also reducing the cost of HRT meaning women can pay a one-off charge equivalent to two single prescription charges, currently £18.70, for all their HRT prescriptions for a year.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I understand how much women rely on HRT which is why we will leave no stone unturned to help make sure women can get the HRT they need.”
More information about the HRT Taskforce can be found here.