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The majority of women will have some menopausal symptoms in midlife, lasting on average for around seven years. These can be physical and/or psychological symptoms and can have a severe impact on quality of life for some women.
One in ten women who have worked during the menopause have left a job due to their symptoms. This is also a peak time for relationship breakdowns and even suicide in women.
There has been a lot of discussion about the effects of the menopause recently, but we know that some women still struggle to get access to timely and evidence-based menopause care.
There are still many myths about who can and can’t have HRT, based on outdated research from 20 years ago. Some women are still being denied HRT unnecessarily. Others may suffer many different symptoms over years before someone joins the dots and realises that lack of oestrogen is the root cause.
Somerset NHS Menopause Service
In 2022, we started a one-year pilot for the Somerset NHS Menopause Service.
The Service is made up of three elements. The main focus for the service is the Menopause Clinic. This work is complemented by two other services: training for GPs and public advice and information webinars around the menopause.
Our aim is to improve the quality of life and long-term health of midlife women in Somerset.
Somerset Menopause Clinic
This provides specialist menopause advice to Somerset GPs and assesses complex patients via face-to-face appointments. The first patients were seen at the Glastonbury Surgery in April.
We are running the specialist menopause clinic to advise GPs and women:
• if they have a complicated medical history and the GP is not sure if HRT is suitable for them
• if they are not getting on well with their current HRT
• if they need advice on lifestyle and non-hormonal prescribed options if they don’t want to, or are unable to, take HRT
The service can also provide advice on testosterone replacement which can be very important for younger women who have had their ovaries removed or affected by cancer treatments or those with an early menopause for other reasons. Testosterone can also benefit some midlife women who are suffering from low libido. This service has already proved to be highly popular, find out more here.
How can women in Somerset experiencing symptoms associated with menopause access help?
Most women with menopausal symptoms can be managed by their GP. If you are having difficulty accessing HRT and meet the referral criteria listed here, you can ask your GP to write to Dr Balfour for advice or, if indicated, a face-to-face appointment at the clinic, based at the Glastonbury Surgery.
Meet the team
Dr Juliet Balfour
Dr Juliet Balfour set up and runs the Somerset NHS Menopause Service. She has been a GP for over 30 years but is now concentrating on her work as a British Menopause Society recognised Menopause Specialist with the Advanced Certificate in Menopause Care.
Dr Kathryn Patrick
Dr Kathryn Patrick is Director of Primary Care at Yeovil District Hospital. Dr Patrick qualified from Birmingham University Medical School in 1998 and has worked since 2000 in the South West. She has been a GP for 17 years and has a special interest in women’s health. She uses her vast experience as a practising front line senior GP to enable her to adopt a holistic approach to menopause care.
Local menopause webinars have proved popular as they help provide advice on a range of topics and can help correct misinformation around the menopause. It also gives us an opportunity to address lifestyle issues.
Reserve your space for March 2023 free webinar:
As part of the one-year pilot project commissioned by NHS Somerset, the Somerset Menopause Service is running a series of free Menopause & HRT webinars for residents in Somerset to understand the symptoms of menopause, ask questions and find out what support is available in Somerset.
Our next free webinar is Wednesday 1 March 7pm, if you’d like to attend you’ll need to register your space here or by emailing: email@example.com
Please note that places are limited. First come, first served.
British Sign Language video available
The first free webinar was held on 19 October hosted by Dr Kathryn Patrick, Director of Primary Care at Yeovil District Hospital, and was well attended with over 150 people attending on the evening. Although future webinars are planned soon, the recording with British Sign Language interpreter is available to watch on our YouTube channel here.
Helpful Resources for you
We have put together a free Menopause resource pack which provides useful information and links to help you understand and manage the symptoms of the menopause.
Educating Healthcare Professionals
As part of the service, we will also be providing in-person and virtual training for GPs, nurse practitioners and nurses working in primary care around the many menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms to look out for and the safe prescribing of HRT. Increased education and training will help raise awareness amongst healthcare professionals in Somerset of the huge and long-lasting impact of the menopause on women’s health.