Dr Balfour is a GP and a British Menopause Society recognised menopause specialist and trainer. She has recently been elected on to the BMS Medical Advisory Council. She runs the Somerset NHS Menopause Service.
She has a one year role as the Somerset Menopause Fellow. This role is to raise awareness of how perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms can affect women working in the NHS and how they can be supported.
WHY IS MORE AWARENESS AT WORK NEEDED?
77% of the NHS workforce are women and nearly 50% of the NHS workforce are women aged 45-64.
10% of women in employment at the time of the menopause have left a job due to their symptoms (Fawcett Society report). Many more consider leaving, reduce their hours or don’t go for promotion. We are losing too many wise and experienced women.
The symptoms experienced during the perimenopause and menopause can vary enormously between women. The most commonly reported difficulties at work include poor concentration, tiredness, poor memory, feeling low and reduced confidence. Other common symptoms affecting work include sleep problems, irritability, hot flushes, aching muscles and joints and mood swings. There are many other possible symptoms. Some women have no symptoms or just a few, others have many. It is variable how long these symptoms last.
Many women feel unable to disclose their menopausal symptoms at work due to embarassment or fear of being judged.
NHS ENGLAND GUIDANCE
The NHS has recognised that this is a serious issue for their workforce and have produced a guidance document as below:
Further resources are being developed by the NHS.
WAYS TO IMPROVE STAFF AWARENESS AND SUPPORT IN GENERAL PRACTICE
- Menopause awareness sessions for the whole workforce – creating an open culture so issues can be discussed more freely.
- Having a menopause policy (that everyone actually reads!).
- Menopause training for line managers and practice managers.
- Workplace assessments.
- Workplace adaptations.
- Sickness/attendance management policies.
- Availability of in-house support – e.g menopause champions in the practice.
Dr Balfour held an online webinar for practice managers in February 2023. Here is the link for the video recording and her slides:
CIPD GUIDANCE FOR MANAGERS
The CIPD has produced a document for managers:
TRAINING FOR PRACTICE MANAGERS AND OTHER STAFF
There is a new e-LFH training option.