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HRT Taskforce head Madelaine McTernan returns working fulltime for vaccine taskforce

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The Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Taskforce head Madelaine McTernan has returned to working full time as the director general of the Vaccine Taskforce for autumn booster campaign preparation.

She has presented a few key recommendations to help ensure continued HRT supply to meet rising demand. “Improved access to data on prescriptions to more easily see where there are shortfalls between HRT packs prescribed and HRT packs supplied by manufacturers,” she suggested. “Taking lessons from the HRT supply chain work to inform broader medicine supply work.”

Madelaine said: “I am pleased to see the situation with HRT supply is improving across the country. I want to thank suppliers and manufacturers for their engagement and positive action to tackle this serious issue.

“I have presented my key learnings on how the department can continue to manage HRT supply and work with the industry as it continues efforts to meet rising demand.”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: “Access to HRT has improved following decisive actions to increase supply and manage demand including issuing serious shortage protocols (SSPs) on HRT products to limit dispensing to 3 months’ supply and allow specified alternative products to be supplied if necessary.”

“Following positive engagement across the supply chain, suppliers have also moved to secure additional stock and expedite deliveries of HRT products experiencing supply issues. Suppliers are building future capacity to support continued growth in demand.”

Then Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Women’s health is a priority for this government, and we are ensuring everyone who needs HRT is able to access it.

“Madelaine’s work and that of her taskforce and the department has been vital, and her recommendations will ensure progress in HRT supply continues.”

The taskforce has held two roundtables and has ongoing discussions with key suppliers to understand issues and engage on plans to meet demand.

It has issued SSPs to restrict dispensing of certain products to 3 months and allow pharmacists to substitute certain products for alternatives.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has delivered workshops to ensure manufacturers and pharmacists are aware of guidance to help them manage stock levels and worked with the NHS to understand and communicate the role of formularies (a list of recommended medicines) in terms of access to HRT.

The government has also taken action to reduce costs of HRT. The creation of a prepayment certificate will mean women can access HRT on a month-by-month basis if needed, easing pressure on supply, paying a one-off charge equivalent to 2 single prescription charges (currently £18.70) for all their HRT prescriptions for a year. This system will be implemented by April 2023.

Dame Lesley Regan has also been appointed the first ever Women’s Health ambassador for England to support in the implementation of the Women’s Health Strategy and improve women’s experiences of the health and care system in England.

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Current Issue December 2023

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