500,000 women benefit from cheaper hormone replacement therapy

Half a million women in England have accessed cheaper HRT – the main treatment for negative menopause symptoms – since last April.

  • Since April last year, half a million women in England have benefitted from cheaper hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help with menopause symptoms
  • The HRT prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) are part of a wider scheme of government initiatives to bolster support for women experiencing negative menopause symptoms, as part of its world-leading Women’s Health Strategy 
  • More than £11 million saved by women using the PPC in last nine months

Since launching on 1 April last year, more than 500,000 women in England have accessed cheaper HRT – the main treatment for negative menopause symptoms – helping to save hundreds of pounds in prescription charges.

A key pillar of the first year of England’s Women’s Health Strategy, which made menopause a priority area, the HRT PPC reduced prescription costs to just £19.30 per year. It can be used against a list of eligible HRT items that includes patches, tablets and topical preparations. Patients can use the HRT PPC as many times as needed throughout the year.

Making HRT more accessible through reducing its cost is one way the government is making menopause support more readily available to women. This year the government has also successfully tackled supply issues, by working with suppliers to encourage and support them to meet growing demand.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said:

“I am determined to make access to healthcare faster, simpler, and fairer. Better access to HRT will improve the lives of millions and gives women the freedom to take control of their symptoms. 

“This is a huge milestone and shows how successful our Women’s Health Strategy is in delivering the outcomes women want and deserve.”

Minister for Women’s Health Strategy Maria Caulfield said:

“Every woman is different and so it’s essential we make sure all women can access the right medication that works for them.

“Many women often need to try a few different types of HRT to get the right medication that works for them. By reducing the price of HRT to under £20 for a year’s supply, we’ve made it more equitable for women to go on living their normal lives.

“Our Women’s Health Strategy continues to deliver on what women want.”

Women experiencing the menopause will also benefit from the establishment of women’s health hubs in local health areas across the country.

As a result of the government investment of £25 million, women’s health hubs will improve women’s access to care, improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities. The government aims to establish at least one women’s health hub in every local area this year, enabling better access and quality of care in services for menstrual problems, contraception, pelvic pain, menopause care and more.

Professor Dame Lesley Regan, the Women’s Health Ambassador for England said:

“When we created this Strategy, we made it clear it would improve women’s health outcomes. 500,000 women accessing affordable HRT is a clear, tangible result of just that.

“Menopause is an inevitable stage of every woman’s life, so receiving second rate care for a predictable problem is not acceptable.

“The HRT PPC is a fantastic way of giving more women access to treatment and our women’s health hubs will provide women experiencing severe menopause symptoms advice from a healthcare professional.”

NHS England will continue its work to improve menopause care by piloting new guidance for nurses, GPs, and other staff to better recognise and treat menopause symptoms, with integrated care systems (or primary care teams) in the Midlands region.

Michael Brodie, Chief Executive of the NHS Business Services Authority, which is responsible for delivering this service, said:

“This significant milestone highlights the crucial role this service provides for patients who rely on HRT, allowing them access to their medication at a reduced cost.” 

Menopause can impact on all areas of a women’s life. The government has appointed Helen Tomlinson as the government’s first Menopause Employment Champion, and have awarded grant funding to charities across England to help employers make changes to their workplace to support women’s reproductive health, which includes menopause.

How to use the PPC

There are a few different ways to get the HRT PPC:

  • online on the NHSBSA website: www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/hrt-ppc  
  • in person at some pharmacies
  • if you’re deaf or hard of hearing, you can use the textphone (or minicom) to contact the NHSBSA using the text relay service. Dial 18001 then the relevant phone number. This will be available from 25 May 2023
  • the NHSBSA also offers a telephone translation service and can provide documents in large print or Braille on request

Patients can call 0300 330 2089 for help and support.

To use your HRT PPC, ask your prescriber for your HRT items on a separate prescription to any other medicines you are prescribed (one prescription per item). This is to ensure the prescription can be processed correctly at the pharmacy.

Take your prescriptions and HRT PPC to a pharmacy and use it as many times as you need over 12 months.

Before getting the HRT PPC:

  • check that you’re not already eligible for free NHS prescriptions using the eligibility checker on the NHSBSA website
  • check that your medicine is covered by the HRT PPC – see the list of eligible HRT medication
  • check whether a 3 or 12-month general PPC is more suitable for you – it covers all NHS prescriptions, not just HRT items, and may be more cost-effective if you are prescribed other medicines as well as HRT

The HRT PPC will be valid for 12 months and there is no limit on the number of times the certificate is used before it expires. You do not need to get it on 1 April – get it just before your next prescription to maximise your use of it over the year.

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