Website crashes as women battling menopause try to get new £19.30 certificate for HRT prescriptions
Health officials have apologised as women battling to get a new online certificate for cheaper hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were met with a website crash.
HRT should have been obtainable from today using a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC), which will last for 12 months and cost £19.30 for the year.
But women have been unable to sort the certificate online due to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website being down.
The NHSBSA apologised and said it is working to fix the problem, adding that women will be able to backdate their certificate if they buy it at a later date.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re aware that some people are experiencing issues when trying to buy an HRT PPC this morning following the introduction of the new service.
Professor Dame Lesley Regan (pictured), women’s health ambassador for England, claims the next step in supporting women through menopause is allowing easier access to HRT
‘We’re working to put a fix in place as soon as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience.
‘We can reassure people wanting to buy a certificate that if they aren’t able to buy one today, they will be able to backdate their certificate if they buy it at a later date.
‘If you need your HRT medicine before you buy the HRT PPC, ask your pharmacist for an FP57 receipt when you pay for your HRT medication. You will be able to get a refund from the pharmacy.
‘The HRT PPC can start from April 1 2023.’
The Government estimates the certificate will help 400,000 women save hundreds of pounds annually.
The certificate includes access to eligible HRT items, including patches, tablets, pessaries and gels and creams applied to the skin.
Welsh Labour MP Carolyn Harris tweeted: ‘The day has come women going through £menopause have been waiting for – the annual pre-payment certificate for £HRT launches…
‘But can anyone actually access the site?
HRT can now be obtained using a prescription prepayment certificate
Health officials have apologised after women were unable to get a certificate online to allow them to access cheaper hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions
‘This has been so hard fought for by women and they can wait no longer.’
Professor Dame Lesley Regan, women’s health ambassador for England, said: ‘Many women do not realise that they are going through the menopause.
‘Helping to make them aware about the inevitability of becoming menopausal is an important first step.
‘The next step is improving awareness that HRT may be an option to help women manage this stage of their life course.
‘Making HRT easier to access will significantly improve the lives of many women who choose to use it, enabling them to reach their full potential.’
Health and Social Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘Menopause care is essential healthcare, and we are ensuring cost is no longer a barrier to women getting the medicines they need.
‘Better access to HRT will improve the lives of millions and gives women the freedom to take control of their symptoms.
‘We’ve rightly put women’s health at the top of the agenda through our Women’s Health Strategy – and continue to deliver on our commitments.’
In recent weeks, pharmacy leaders have warned that the IT infrastructure
GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson said: ‘This is a step in the right direction, other hormones are freely available on the NHS to anyone so HRT should ideally be no different.
‘Research has shown that women living in more deprived areas are less likely to be prescribed HRT.
‘There are many health benefits from taking HRT, including reducing future risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, which many perimenopausal and menopausal women are missing out from.
‘There are too many barriers for women to access menopause treatment and cost of HRT is one so I hope this will really make a difference.
‘However, it is disappointing to see that testosterone will not be covered by the certificate.
‘Testosterone is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for symptoms of low libido where HRT alone is not helping and, in my clinic, patients often say it helps with other menopausal symptoms including brain fog and low mood.’
She said other potential issues were warnings from pharmacists that the IT infrastructure was not yet in place to support the rollout, and that not all HRT products are covered by the new certificate.
Women can check their HRT medicine is covered by the PPC by visiting www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/help-nhs-prescription-costs/nhs-hormone-replacement-therapy-prescription-prepayment-certificate-hrt-ppc/medicines-covered-hrt-ppc