I know, I know, it’s been a week since the Menopause Revolution and the rally in London and I’m only just writing about it.
It’s been a strange week, that’s why, starting with a cold that kept me in bed all weekend and wiped out for the following few days. (I seem to get colds more often these days – and real colds, that last for days and leave me exhausted – so it’s something I’m going to look at.)
And then, of course, it was back to the day job: 50Sense and campaigning doesn’t pay the mortgage. And I have to deal with the family, the cat, getting fit after lockdown – we menopausal women juggle a lot of balls!!!!
There were a few moments that had me not wanting to write about this, but that would be unfair on Carolyn Harris MP and all the lovely grassroots campaigners I met who are working every day to make a difference and what was an incredibly positive (and Pausitive) debate in Parliament.
So here we go with my take on the Menopause Revolution…
Menopause Revolution and prescription charges
On the surface, the Menopause (Support and Services) Bill was to scrap all prescription charges for HRT in England. In reality, it was a way of highlighting the state of menopause care in the UK and the need for change. It didn’t do the first but it did do the second.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause to cheer for prescription charges – something I’ve long ranted about when it comes to HRT. The government has agreed that women in England can be prescribed HRT for a year at the cost of one charge, while they’re also looking into merging the two separate charges for oestrogen and progesterone into one.
Now while this is a huge step forward, I’d like to know if the one charge would affect women like me, who have had to change HRT every few months while I find the correct balance. Would I have been eligible to pay just once?
(I’m still angry at paying £18.70 for a three-month prescription only to receive one month’s worth because of HRT shortages, which are still affecting women.)
And even if it is a minimum amount, a woman in Berwick-upon-Tweed still has to pay while her neighbour just over the border in Scotland gets it free. Likewise the women of Wales.
Many GPs have also pointed out that HRT can already be prescribed for a year (my GP said they do six months once they get the right HRT).
But that is because HRT was the Trojan Horse of the Menopause Revolution. The real success is…
A menopause taskforce
Now this is what I’m excited about.
Today I commit to establishing a new menopause taskforce, with the hon. Member for Swansea East [Carolyn Harris] as a co-chair. The taskforce will encourage faster action and join up the dots across the system to take a coherent approach to improving support for those experiencing the menopause.Maria Caulfield, Minister for Women’s Health, Menopause (Support and Services) Bill debate
This will make a huge difference to getting menopausal women the support they need and believe me, we will be making our cause known.
Education was mentioned several times during the debate, with several MPs saying they had no idea about symptoms.
This is everything Pausitivity has been lobbying for – even during lockdown – and we’re determined that we will get menopause posters and information in every NHS centre so no one will fail to #KnowYourMenopause.
Pausitivity and the Menopause Revolution
We never dreamt Pausitivity would get a mention on such a momentous day, but we did! Nickie Aiken, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, gave us a special shout-out and there was even a “hear hear” when she called us “brilliant women who are really bringing Know Your Menopause to the front”.
We were the only menopause campaign to be mentioned and as we’re just two women, who have only met three times, it was a major boost.
And a huge “well done” to the lovely Barbara Claypole, too, who spoke out at a Wellbeing of Women round table and her experience was quoted in the debate.
In addition, a week earlier, two MPs praised the campaign during the World Menopause Day debate. I was live-tweeting it at the the time and I couldn’t type when I heard them!
We sometimes think we’re shouting into the void, but this shows we are being listened to and that it is so important to keep the conversation going. Thank you to everyone who supports us and speaks out. It is YOU who is making the difference
Taking the Menopause Revolution beyond England
The day after the rally, Pausitivity and the Menopause Revolution were featured in the Washington Post! Now as a journalist who has seen All The President’s Men more times than you can imagine, I was blown away. I’ve decided Dustin Hoffman can play me in the film about KnowYourMenopause. He’s about the right height…
We inspired Let’s Talk Menopause, a US group to start their own poster campaign and it’s hit the subways in New York, which we’re over the moon about and ever so slightly jealous. They have a brilliant website for any US readers.
This was followed a few days later by the wonderful Gillian Martin MSP praising not only Pausitivity, but also 50Sense itself in a debate in Holyrood. Nicola Sturgeon – we’re setting our sights on you for a menopause selfie!
As for the menopause rally…
There were so many amazing moments. I had to interview Penny Lancaster for Hello! magazine, so sadly, I wasn’t able to be as active as I’d first planned. Instead of the schmoozing – I mean, campaigning, I had to work and get quotes and then file them so my brain was all over the place.
On top of that, my train was late – very late – and I had to dash across London when they suddenly terminated the journey before my stop.
But I caught up with some old faces and met lots of amazing new ones and I finally, finally, got to meet the incredible Dr Nighat Arif afterwards. And yes, she is just as beautiful and friendly as she is on screen.
Then there was the hug from Davina McCall, when I gibbered like an idiot because I’ve been a fan for decades, and meeting Darron Dupre from Unison Wales and giving him a cuddle off me and Clare.
And most importantly, I wouldn’t have missed seeing Carolyn’s joy and being able to share that with her for the world.
As for the moments, well, they only add to my determination… Viva la Menopause Revolution!
What would you like the Menopause Taskforce to look at? I’d love to know your thoughts below.
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