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Support nurses with menopause – or risk losing them, MPs told

Nurse tells committee that specialist advice and resources are vital as symptoms often go unrecognised and stigma around the menopause still exists

Nurse tells committee that specialist advice and resources are vital as symptoms often go unrecognised and stigma around the menopause still exists

Improving menopause support and awareness is key to retaining experienced nursing staff who may struggle to get help with managing symptoms at work, a leading nurse has said.

NHS England Menopause Network chair and registered nurse Jacqui McBurnie said feedback from nurses and other staff going though the menopause showed that many experienced exhaustion and other symptoms that often went unrecognised or were misunderstood.

She highlighted the need for more specialist help and advice when she gave evidence to the parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee , which is

Nurse tells committee that specialist advice and resources are vital as symptoms often go unrecognised and stigma around the menopause still exists

Picture: iStock

Improving menopause support and awareness is key to retaining experienced nursing staff who may struggle to get help with managing symptoms at work, a leading nurse has said.

NHS England Menopause Network chair and registered nurse Jacqui McBurnie said feedback from nurses and other staff going though the menopause showed that many experienced exhaustion and other symptoms that often went unrecognised or were misunderstood.

She highlighted the need for more specialist help and advice when she gave evidence to the parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee, which is looking at recruitment and retention.

Menopause can make work challenging, nurse says

Ms McBurnie said experienced staff going through the menopause may struggle to carry on working, let alone take on additional coaching or mentoring, or apply for promotion. This meant the NHS was at risk of losing a wealth of experience and knowledge.

Nursing and Midwifery Council figures show more than 286,000 nurses and midwives – about 45% of the UK register – are aged between 41 and 55, putting them in the age group for experiencing the wide range of symptoms related to perimenopause and menopause.

Continuing stigma around the menopause

Ms McBurnie told the committee that ongoing stigma around the menopause – such as fear of being seen as incapable or irrational – meant staff were worried about talking about it openly.

One colleague feared it might be ‘career-limiting’ for a woman in a middle to senior role to share her personal experiences or champion support for others.

Specialist advice and resources needed, as well as training for managers

Ms McBurnie said support available from GPs and occupational health teams varied; what was often missing was specialist advice and resources to help staff manage menopause symptoms and remain happy and healthy at work.

She also highlighted the need for more training for line managers and other ways to access support.

‘One of my colleagues who was Muslim did not want to share the details of her sensitive symptoms but had to do that in order to access support in the workplace,’ Ms McBurnie said.

NHS is improving menopause awareness and support

She added that the NHS had listened to staff feedback and taken steps to raise awareness and improve support. An NHS England spokesperson said this included issuing guidance for employers and encouraging trusts to record menopause-related sickness absence to improve understanding of the needs of their workforce.

England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May, and CNO for Wales Sue Tranka, are among members of a new UK Menopause Taskforce set up earlier this year.


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