HRT can help many women, but isn't suitable for everyone, says RCGP

Publication date: 20 February 2019

Responding to reports of a BBC Inside Out London documentary that claims GPs have 'forgotten' about the menopause, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "The menopause can be a difficult time for many women and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can certainly help, specifically with the relief of symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, but it isn't for everyone – and there is nothing in the NICE guidelines to suggest that all or even most women with menopause symptoms should be prescribed it.

"Prescribing is a core skill for GPs, and we will of course take clinical guidelines into account, but they are guidelines to be applied bearing in mind the unique features of each patient, not tramlines to force us in one direction. What they do is provide some options for treatment, and they offer reassurance that HRT is a safe option for many women - but it is not suitable for everyone and even when it is prescribed, best practice is to prescribe the lowest possible dose of hormones, for the shortest possible time.

"Far from 'forgetting' about middle-aged women, GPs are embedded in their communities, seeing over a million patients every day, and we are trained to treat the whole person, taking into account all the physical, psychological and social factors potentially impacting on their health when making a diagnosis. Any decision to prescribe will be made in discussion with the patient, based on their individual circumstances, and taking into account both their preferences and clinical guidelines, to achieve the best possible health outcome.

"The RCGP takes women's health incredibly seriously – it is a clinical priority for the College and a key part of the GP curriculum that all GPs must demonstrate competence of in order to practise independently as a GP in the UK. We have also worked with partners, including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health to develop resources to support GPs in this area of learning."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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