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Three members of staff looking at a Menopause book

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust is one of 14 organisations in West Yorkshire who together have been given the Menopause Friendly Workplace Accreditation, recognising the support they give.

The accreditation, established by Henpicked: Menopause In The Workplace (www.menopausefriendly.co.uk), recognises organisations that embrace menopause in the workplace.

The NHS employs over 1.3 million people and around 1 million of these people are women; over 75% of the entire workforce. Women aged 45-54 alone make up a fifth of all NHS employees, therefore up to a fifth of the NHS’ workforce could be experiencing menopausal symptoms.

Menopause is experienced by individuals born with ovaries and is reached 12 months after their last period.  The perimenopause is the stage before the menopause when hormone levels are beginning to decline and symptoms start.  It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 (although can begin earlier) when the ovaries run out of eggs and the hormones oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fall.

Everyone experiences the menopause transition differently and for some people it can have a significant and challenging impact, especially whilst at work. There are over 30 symptoms which are often debilitating and unpredictable, including hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia, problems with concentration and memory, fatigue, palpitations, headaches, muscle and joint pains, and low mood. These can last for a number of years, so workplace support is very important.

The Menopause Friendly rating recognises the work the Trust has already done to set up:

  • a Menopause Support Network for anyone to join who wants any information about menopause or perimenopause. The group isn’t limited to women, or people born with ovaries; it includes partners of people going through menopause.
  • a dedicated email address for people to ask any questions they may have or share useful information.
  • a menopause library of books, in the Trust library, that people can easily borrow, including Davina McCall’s Menopausing book.
  • a special section on the Trust intranet with lots of useful information and resources.
  • Menopause Cafés and events where people can come along and find out more about menopause and perimenopause, symptoms and how to manage them, how the Trust can support in managing them and how to have conversations with line managers.  Recently the Trust gave out paper fans which were very popular!
  • Products available to try like neck fans that the Trust can’t supply but might be helpful for people to know about.
  • A tips wall where people can write their tips on post it notes –  including helpful advice such as ‘summer duvets’ and ‘you’re not going mad’.
  • For 2024 the Menopause Network is also putting together a series of speakers for events. First in the series will be Serena Hampson, pelvic health physiotherapist, as pelvic health can be an issue during menopause.

The Trust has also introduced a menopause policy for managers and has also included menopause on the Enable adjustments passport, to make it easier for staff to ask for and record their adjustments.

Sarah Heys, Wellbeing Lead at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Being a menopause friendly employer is extremely important for our current and future workforce; helping us attract, retain, and make Airedale the best place to work.  We embraced working towards menopause friendly accreditation and are committed to embed good practice around menopause.”

“I’m particularly proud of the work we have done, and continue to do, to raise awareness about all stages of the menopause and the engagement work we have done with colleagues and line managers in helping to normalise the conversation about menopause at work.  This not only helps colleagues who work at Airedale, but will also help our local community and future generations.”

 Katie Lister, Head of Communications and co-lead of the Menopause Network said:

“We’re trying to get to the place where people feel like they can have a conversation about menopause so that it’s not felt to be a shameful thing.  All the women in this organisation are going to go through it at some point, so if we can make it easier for them and the next generation to talk about it and manage it then that’s a real achievement.”