Friday sittings give an opportunity for us to debate and champion some of the issues which are close to MPs' hearts and shows Parliament at its best. Yesterday I was very pleased to speak during the Second Reading of Carolyn Harris' Menopause (Support and Services) Bill and welcome the steps the Government have announced in response to it.
During the debate I was very keen to look at how we can turn the aspirations of the Bill into transformational changes for women. One of the areas which we could look at is how local health and wellbeing boards can drive forward the education and awareness of these services in their areas. If we are able to build the same level of awareness and encouragement that we see with infant health check-ups with a menopause check. it would be a massive step forward and drive a hugely positive change for the 51% of population who are actively impacted by this.
The other positive thing to come out of this debate and the awareness it has generated is the ability that Local Authorities and GPs have to share best practice to ensure there is no stigma and some of the cases raised by colleagues, where women have suffered in silence, are not repeated going forward.
Thanks to the awareness this debate has generated it is brilliant to see the Government are taking direct action to tackle the issue of taboo and make the experience better for women. In particular, they are moving to change the prescribing cycles for repeatable hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions. This would mean women would only have to pay one charge for a 12-month supply, offering a saving of up to £205 a year.
In addition the Government are going to be setting up a new cross-government Menopause Taskforce to continue this championing this work. The Taskforce will be co-chaired by the Minister and Carolyn Harris.