We are aware some users might find it difficult to log into our site today. We are working on this issue and hope to have it resolved shortly.
News

Menopause leave: NHS can be a ‘trailblazer’ and improve retention

RCN forum chair urges NHS to trial offering leave to support nurses experiencing menopause symptoms that make working difficult, adding that it could also help retain experienced staff

RCN forum chair urges NHS to trial offering leave to support nurses experiencing menopause symptoms that make working difficult, adding that it could also help retain experienced staff

Menopause leave should be trialled in the NHS to support nurses and other staff experiencing symptoms that make it difficult to work, a women’s health nurse has said.

RCN women’s health forum chair Katharine Gale said the NHS should be a ‘trailblazer’ when it comes to supporting staff going through the menopause.

Support through menopause to improve retention

‘With the current staffing crisis and vast numbers of nursing roles remaining unfilled, an NHS organisation is an ideal place to trial offering menopausal leave,’ Ms Gale said.

Katharine Gale

RCN forum chair urges NHS to trial offering leave to support nurses experiencing menopause symptoms that make working difficult, adding that it could also help retain experienced staff

Picture: iStock

Menopause leave should be trialled in the NHS to support nurses and other staff experiencing symptoms that make it difficult to work, a women’s health nurse has said.

RCN women’s health forum chair Katharine Gale said the NHS should be a ‘trailblazer’ when it comes to supporting staff going through the menopause.

Support through menopause to improve retention

‘With the current staffing crisis and vast numbers of nursing roles remaining unfilled, an NHS organisation is an ideal place to trial offering menopausal leave,’ Ms Gale said.

Katharine Gale

‘It’s essential the NHS supports nurses through menopause and beyond to retain their experience, skills and expertise and to ensure high quality care for our patients.

‘No nurse should feel they have no other option but to step down from their role because of a normal transition in life.’

Making menopause a protected characteristic

Ms Gale’s comments follow a House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report on menopause and the workplace, which found that those experiencing the menopause still receive little support at work, forcing many to cut back their hours or even leave their job.

The cross-party group recommended menopause become a protected characteristic, like pregnancy, to give people more rights in the workplace. It also suggested menopause leave should be piloted at a large public sector employer so staff are not forced out of work by rigid sickness policies.

Ms Gale said a menopause leave policy in the NHS would offer flexibility when nurses are struggling with symptoms. ‘Having the ability to take menopause leave would mean they could have ad hoc days off when symptoms are at their worst, without the fear of triggering the sickness and absence policy,’ she said.

‘Women often feel embarrassed about discussing the impact of their symptoms and are more comfortable when their employer is encouraging open and honest conversations about menopause at work to smash the taboo and stigma that remains.’

Ms Gale said that staff want to know there is support available and that they will be treated fairly and consistently in line with employment law.

‘Making menopause a protected characteristic would give women more confidence in having a supportive conversation with their manager, with reasonable adjustments offered to further support them through the transition.’

Policy on menopause differs across UK countries

Nurses in England can report an episode of leave due to menopause symptoms, but systems of support are different across the four countries in the UK.

In Wales nurses are supported by the All Wales Menopause Policy, which aims to provide direction on how organisations should deal with menopause-related issues.

Ms Gale says all NHS employers should have a menopause policy in place. NHS Employers provides a version that can be adopted in different organisations.

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

A government spokesperson said: ‘The UK-wide Menopause Taskforce is seeking to end the taboos surrounding the menopause and considering the role workplace policies can play in supporting menopausal women.

‘The government’s Health and Wellbeing Fund is helping expand and develop projects which support women experiencing the menopause to remain in the workplace.’

NHS Employers has been contacted for comment.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs