‘It’s unfair on women’ Menopause specialist criticises lack of NHS services in Cardiff

Women living in Cardiff and the Vale needing treatment and support during the menopause are at a “disadvantage” due to the lack of specialists available on the NHS.

Dr Jane Clarke-Williams is a private menopause specialist at Octavia Healthcare and the only menopause specialist in Cardiff. She said Cardiff and Vale University Health board is the only one in Wales that does not have a paid menopause specialist.

This comes as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that women will now be able to take employers to court if they feel they have not received enough menopausal support.

Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales found that 1 in 10 menopausal women in Wales are forced to leave work as a result of unmanageable symptoms, lack of appropriate treatment and poor access to services.

Dr Clarke-Williams also said all women should have access to the “correct advice” when going through the many changes that come with the menopause.

“Every single woman should have access [to advice] and everyone needs it to support the patient involved, even if you’re a man”, she said, adding that “women are told to ‘man up and get over it’, and Cardiff and Vale as a region realise they need a specialist service”.

She said she finds it “really weird” that a capital city like Cardiff is lacking in menopause specialists.

Menopause advice is currently given through gynaecological services where there aren’t any qualified specialists, which, she says seems “unfair on women”.

She also said she has seen an increase in women accessing her services as they are unable to get advice they need from a GP.

She added that whilst private options are available, “Most people don’t know how a person becomes a specialist or how someone’s qualified”, and less regulation in the private sector means that “you could see anybody without knowing really [whether they’re qualified or not]”.

In 2022, the Welsh Government launched the All-Wales Menopause Task and Finish Group to address issues surrounding menopause services in Wales.

Health & Social Services Minister, Eluned Morgan said Wales needed to ensure “the same high standards of menopause care are available to everyone”.

The results of a report by the group were released in February 2023, with recommendations to be implemented by NHS Wales with assistance from the government. This included a face-to-face or virtual consultation with a menopause specialist for every patient within twelve weeks of referral from a GP.

Dr. Clarke-Williams said that many patients she has seen have not received this, despite the report recommending they would.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “The menopause is covered in GP training and in continuous professional development provided by Health Education and Improvement Wales”.

The government added that it takes women’s health “very seriously” and expected the NHS to provide a full range of services and support for women experiencing menopause.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board were unable to provide a comment.