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Health Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (349)

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

349. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health if he will consider introducing measures to support women with the financial cost of hormone replacement therapy as a treatment for severe symptoms of the menopause; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58153/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government recognises that menopause is a key health issue for women in Ireland today, and work is underway to drive progress in this area which is being driven by the Women’s Health Taskforce. The Taskforce was convened in September 2019, to improve health outcomes and health experiences for women and girls. Significant activity is currently underway to enhance the supports available to women through the menopause. Minister Donnelly announced his commitment to establish dedicated specialist menopause clinics across Ireland on the 10th of September. These clinics will form a core part of a new approach to menopause care for women in Ireland and will be supported by enhanced community and primary care supports as well as the publication of targeted and trusted sources of information for women experiencing menopause. The first phase of change will include the development of a dedicated specialist menopause clinic, in the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street this year. The clinic will be multidisciplinary supported by GPs with a certified special interest in the area of menopause and clinical nurse/midwife specialists. In addition to seeing women who meet the clinical criteria for referral to the service, the clinical team will also provide advice and guidance to GPs in the community to support the effective management of menopausal symptoms for women closer to home within primary care. Further details on this announcement can be found here:www.gov.ie/en/press-release/bf7d4-minister-for-health-announces-a-new-approach-to-menopause-care-for-women-in-ireland/

Funding for a further three specialist menopause clinics were announced within Budget 2022.

Additional activity underway and planned in the area of menopause includes:

- GP training is a key aspect of women receiving the best care through menopause. The Irish College of GPs are active members of the Women's Health Taskforce and continue to be engaged on how women's health can be better considered within the primary care setting. Relevant activity includes the collaboration between ICGP and the British Menopause Society to develop training in menopause management, which is currently in place; a recent ICGP Women’s Health Webinar on menopause and endometriosis which was held in June 2021 and had 1567 attendees; and a GP Education course which was established in September 2021 in the area of Community Gynaecology Course which includes menopause as a topic. Funding has been provided through the Women's Health Fund to develop a 'quick reference guide' for GPs on the menopause, to support primary care provision in this area. The Minister has outlined his support for a new ICGP post of Clinical Lead for Women’s Health in General Practice, the first such post in Ireland. This is currently being progressed and will enable the development of a comprehensive life-course approach to women’s health in General Practice.

- A number of health topics relating to women's health, including menopause, have recently been updated and are now live on the HSE A-Z. This information is an important first step towards delivering enhanced information and education on menopause. A public information webinar on the menopause is scheduled for November 29th 2021. - A civil service webinar on 'Menopause at work' was held on October 18th, and further HR training to better understand the challenges and solutions for supporting women in their menopause journey within the civil service will be held on November 30th. The Healthy Workplace Framework is due to be published in the coming months. Following publication, an Implementation Group will be established with responsibility for developing an action plan. A representative from Women’s Health will be included on the Implementation Group to ensure the needs of women in the workplace are incorporated. This has particular reference to increased awareness of menopause within the workplace. In addition to the activity outlined above, menopause will continue to be a priority for the Women's Health Taskforce for 2021 and 2022. Hormone replacement therapy, and in particular the cost of hormone replacement therapy, has been highlighted by women as an area they would like further attention on. Further research is required to understand the cost and benefit of such a development. This will be considered when planning for further menopause activity to take place in 2022.

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