A new report finds improvements needed in menopause support for women in North Tyneside

Healthwatch North Tyneside spoke to 65 women in the borough about their experiences of menopause support and found dissatisfaction with what is currently available. In March, local health and care champion Healthwatch North Tyneside undertook exploratory research into experiences of menopause support in the area, following a request for information that highlighted potential gaps in local provision.

Healthwatch received detailed responses to an online survey giving a clear insight into people’s experiences of the support and information available from local health providers. Respondents said they felt poorly informed about what to expect during the menopause and struggled with symptoms for many years without realising the cause. Health, work, relationships, and quality of life were adversely affected.

Accessing information about menopause was described as a ‘minefield’. Respondents told Healthwatch that they wanted clear, reliable and comprehensive information and support. The report highlighted the need for GPs to talk to women about options to manage their symptoms and not focus on HRT, and for specific training for GPs to diagnose menopause-related symptoms.

Healthwatch has shared the report with North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, North Tyneside Living Well Locally Board, and with the local GPs responsible for training and education. In response to the report additional GP training is being made available and a menopause services page will be added to the new Living Well North Tyneside website, a portal of local health and wellbeing information for North Tyneside residents.

Menopause, a subject that is still not often talked about openly, usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, but can occur for some before the age of 40. Most women experience symptoms, including hot flushes and anxiety, that can significantly impact their daily lives. Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce (Professor Jo Brewis, co-author Government Report on Menopause). According to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, almost 8 out of 10 of menopausal women are in work. It’s estimated that there are around 13 million women who are currently peri or menopausal in the UK– that’s equal to one third of the entire UK female population.

Dr Alexandra Kent, Medical Director at North Tyneside CCG said:

"Menopause can be a very difficult time for many women. GPs are trained to support their patients with the physical and mental health aspects of the menopause and would encourage women to come forward for support.

"This new report is most welcome and is being shared with local health professionals to give further understanding into the experiences women face. We will also be ensuring access to vital menopause support information is improved in North Tyneside."

Paul Jones, Director of Healthwatch North Tyneside said:

“Improving menopause support in North Tyneside makes sense because it will enhance wellbeing and enable women to stay healthier for longer, potentially reducing later demands on local NHS services.

“The current level of support is disproportionate to the number of women affected and the impact it has on women’s personal and working lives.”

With thanks to Living Well North Tyneside partner Healthwatch for providing this article. 

Photo Credit: Peter Kindersley for the Centre of Aging Better.

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