Menopause — [Mr Laurence Robertson in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 9 June 2022.

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Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Labour, Swansea East 1:30, 9 June 2022

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the menopause.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Robertson. It has been four years since I first spoke in a debate in this place on the menopause. Each year that followed, I duly put my name down to speak in the annual debate on or around World Menopause Day, but it was not enough. While it might have gone some way towards breaking down barriers and lifting the taboo on this great unspoken issue, speaking about the menopause was not doing anything for the millions of women across the country who were suffering the symptoms and in desperate need of help. This issue was something I had a burning desire to champion as I learned more and more about how support and services are failing women across the country, and my opportunity came when I was successful in the private Member’s ballot last year.

The twenty-ninth of October 2021 felt like a momentous day. As we gathered in Parliament Square, there were cheers of joy and tears of relief; the Minister herself was there, so she will know what I mean when I say that you could feel the utter delight in the atmosphere as women celebrated what they perceived as a victory. It is no exaggeration to say that, since that day, I have been bombarded with messages asking when the annual prescription charge for hormone replacement therapy in England will be introduced. We now know—I am sure the Minister will explain the technical reasons for this—that the answer is April 2023: 18 months after the commitment was made, 18 months after the cheers and the tears, and 18 months after that delightful taste of victory, which is so rapidly turning sour.

Naturally, I am frustrated. I have been angry, and I have been very vocal. All the explanations for how and why this has happened mean nothing. They do not help the women who are struggling through a cost of living crisis and can barely afford food and heating, let alone “luxuries” like their medication.