What action is the Welsh Government taking to ensure that women who experience adverse mental and physical health impacts of menopause have access to timely support and treatment?
Welsh Government takes women’s health, including menopause, very seriously. We have not commissioned specific research into menopause as there is already a substantial body of evidence that demonstrates the significant impact it can have on women’s lives. It is very clear, there is a need to ensure women are offered the support they need, wherever they may be.
I appreciate that women may experience the menopause in very different ways, with a variety of symptoms and the experience can have a significant impact on women’s mental health. Therefore, I expect that health boards respond to this by working with women to produce individual care tailored to their needs.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines include the requirement to adopt an individualised approach at all stages of diagnosis, investigation and management of menopause and the need to refer women to a healthcare professional with expertise in menopause if treatments do not improve their menopausal symptoms or they have ongoing troublesome side effects. I expect all health boards to provide a full range of services to women experiencing the menopause in accordance with NICE guidance.
It is important that we ensure the same high standards apply irrespective of where in Wales a woman accesses the Health Service. My officials worked with Public Health Wales to develop the Sexual Health Service Specification 2018, which provides a model of integrated service delivery based on national policy, best practice, local health needs, and evidence based practice. The Sexual Health Service Specification sets out a menopause care pathway for use by all health boards in Wales.
I recognise more work may be needed in a number of aspects of women’s health. The Women’s Health Implementation Group (WHIG) was established in 2018 to improve outcomes for women with issues involving pelvic health and I am keen to develop this group to also consider wider women’s health issues, including work around menopause awareness and support.
I have also agreed we will contribute to a UK Government-led menopause task force, which will commence its work early in 2022 and which will share best practice around menopause care and consider issues around education and workplace support for women experiencing menopause.