The first “menopause passports” have been introduced to an NHS trust in the UK, allowing women to wear lighter, more breathable uniforms to ease symptoms of menopause.
The University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust is the first NHS trust to offer staff menopause passports after Wendy Madden, a nurse at the hospital, coined the idea. The hospital employs 18,000 women, 5,000 of whom are over 50.
What are menopause passports?
Employees that notify their managers that they are going through perimenopause or menopause will be provided with documents outlining the training and support available to them.
They will be given access to a symptom tracker, and have the option of meeting with their manager to discuss amendments that can be made to make their working environment more comfortable. This could include changing shift patterns or having access to fans or breathable uniforms.
“It makes sense that we put time and effort into making sure that [women at the trust], and future generations, have the support they need to be happy and comfortable at work, ensuring we retain their immense skills and expertise,” said Cathi Shovlin, chief people officer at the trust.
Who is Wendy Madden?
Wendy Madden is a nurse at The University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust who first experienced menopause symptoms at 45. These included irregular periods, mood swings, anxiety and brain fog, to name a few.
“The menopause passport came about because I wanted to use my experience to help make sure that women can talk openly, with confidence about their symptoms, and to get the support that they need,” Wendy says.
“Coming to work was a real struggle and when I got home I was so tired I would go straight to bed. I thought all women went through the same thing, so I just didn’t say anything to anybody.
“It wasn’t until the symptoms were so bad, that I felt I had no quality of life that I got help from my doctor. HRT made a world of difference, but I was still missing someone to talk to. It wasn’t long afterwards that I became chair of the trust’s Women’s Staff Network, and I began work on the passport.”