Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has insisted “menopause is a priority area within the Women’s Health Strategy” amid cross-party calls from MPs to “change tack”.
Frontbencher Ms Badenoch defended the Government’s rejection of recommendations by the Women and Equalities Committee on menopause and the workplace.
These included calls for a large-scale pilot of menopause leave and a recommendation to make menopause a “protected characteristic” under the Equalities Act.
Raising the issue at Commons Women and Equalities questions, SNP MP Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) asked: “This week the UK Government rejected outright five of the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s recommendations on menopause and the workplace and is not actually committing to any new work in response to the report.
“The chair of the committee (Caroline Nokes) has described the Government’s progress as glacial and its response as complacent, pointing out it’s a missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce.
“So will the minister change tack and will she commit to finally acting on menopause and the workplace and if she won’t, will she commit to looking again at why devolving employment law to Scotland matters so much, so that we can do that work?”
Ms Badenoch replied: “What I would do is ask (her) to read the Women’s Health Strategy and she will see that the menopause is a priority area within the Women’s Health Strategy.”
She added: “The select committee has made recommendations which we have considered carefully, but there is no point in the Government having a strategy if it’s simply going to accept recommendations from elsewhere that don’t conform to that.
“I think that the best thing would be for her to actually work with the Government and to look at the good work that we’re doing on tackling issues around the menopause.”
Ministers were also asked to urgently clarify what hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products will be covered by prepayment certificates because there is still “some ambiguity”, Labour MP Carolyn Harris said.
The MP for Swansea East said: “Despite the 11th hour response to my letter about HRT prepayment certificates arriving in my inbox just an hour ago, there still appears to be some ambiguity about what the certificate will cover.
“In her letter, the minister says the changes to the drug tariff are being finalised to add eligible items, but no indication as to whether this will cover all HRT products.
“So for the benefit of women across the country, and as a matter of urgency, could the minister please provide the comprehensive list of which products?”
Equalities minister Maria Caulfield said: “I did respond to her letter last week as quickly as possible, and I’m glad she’s received a response.
“I just want to confirm that from April, the HRT prepayment certificate will be available to women, £18.70 for a whole year, saving women hundreds of pounds on HRT prescriptions every year.”