– in the Scottish Parliament on 2nd February 2023.
2. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the development of a menopause specialist network. (S6O-01861)
The action in the women’s health plan to develop a national menopause specialist network has been completed. The network has been meeting since 2021 to provide consistent advice and peer support and to share good practice among healthcare professionals, including primary care teams. The network meets on a quarterly basis and includes representatives from all mainland national health service boards.
I thank the minister for that answer. It was recently estimated that, in the United Kingdom, during an undefined period, more than 900,000 employees left their jobs because of the impact of menopause symptoms. In addition to better clinical support for women during menopause, better understanding and support is needed in workplaces. I know that I am potentially creeping into another minister’s remit but, in the spirit of cross-portfolio working, could some work be done within the women’s health brief to better inform workplaces on the menopause and get meaningful policies in place? Perhaps that could start with our NHS—after all, it employs many women whom we cannot afford to lose from the workplace.
Our women’s health plan highlights the need to consider women as rounded individuals with a range of needs, and we are committed to working across portfolios to achieve our aim of reducing health inequalities and improving health outcomes for women, including in the workplace. Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce, so it is now more important than ever to speak openly about the menopause at work. Through the women’s health plan, we are developing support for employers and those who experience symptoms of the menopause. That work includes a menopause and menstrual health workplace policy for NHS Scotland as an example of best practice to promote across the public, private and third sectors.
Last week, the Scottish Government published its women’s health progress report, which was delayed by six months. Can the minister explain why the establishment of a dedicated menopause policy post has not been achieved? In the Government’s implementation plan, that was classed as a short-term action, so it should have been delivered within the year. When will an appointment be made?
I am very proud of the progress that we have made in the first year of the women’s health plan and, of course, Scotland was the first country in the United Kingdom to put forward a women’s health plan. From the moment that I took up my post, I have been very clear that we have a great deal of work to do to overturn the millennia of discrimination and disadvantage that women face. I think that we have done great work on the menopause. As I said in my previous answer, we have brought forward access to a specialist menopause workforce. On our NHS Inform website, we have busted myths about the menopause, and I am really proud of the progress that we have made.
I am happy to write to Jackie Baillie with an update in response to the specific question that she asked.