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‘Unacceptable’ shortages of contraceptives and HRT

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The shortages risk the most vulnerable in society The shortages risk the most vulnerable in society

A shortage of contraceptives and HRT is ‘causing chaos’, healthcare organisations have warned.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Menopause Society and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, about the ongoing manufacturing and supply issues for HRT and contraceptives.

‘We understand the HRT supply situation should begin to improve from February 2020 as the range of products which supply 70% of the HRT patch market will be re-introduced to the UK market. However a number of HRT medications and contraceptives remain unavailable, some until the end of this year, and some with no timeline as to when they will be back on the market,’ said Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’

‘While we are grateful to the Department of Health and Social Care for working closely with suppliers to re-introduce some of these products to the market, it remains unclear why there is a shortage in the first place or when the normal supply of the products might resume. The lack of transparency around why these shortages have occurred is extremely frustrating.’

According to the organisations, the shortages began last year. They warn that the situation may lead to a rise in unplanned pregnancies and abortions, whilst inadvertently affecting the most vulnerable in the UK.

‘Nurses working in women’s health deliver high quality advice but that advice is little good if women can’t access the resources necessary to follow it,’ said Debra Holloway, Nurse Consultant and member of the RCN's Women's Health Forum.

‘Shortages of contraceptives and HRT mean that women are sometimes going for months on end without their medication, leading to complications, poor symptom control, a decreased quality of life, and in the case of contraception, unplanned pregnancies. Women are contacting nurses expressing their frustration about not being able to obtain their medication but unfortunately there are often no suitable alternatives.

‘A key part of being a nurse is advocating for your patients, and nursing staff can’t stand by and watch as sustained pharmaceutical supply problems continue to pose a threat to women and their health. Ministers must address the concerns of all health professionals urgently and the College would be more than happy to offer its expertise to any working group.’

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