HRT tsar taken off job after four months to oversee Covid jab rollout 

THE HRT Government tsar has been taken off the job after four months in order to oversee the Covid jab rollout.

Madelaine McTernan, the head of the vaccine taskforce, was reassigned to help with the HRT shortage earlier this year.

The Covid booster programme starts in September

Madelaine McTernan will resume her normal duties as head of the vaccine taskforce after an “improvement” in supply of HRT

But she will now resume her normal duties after the Department of Health and Social Care suggested her work was done.

It said there had been an “improvement” in supply of the drugs used to alleviate menopause symptoms.

From spring, the shortage crisis meant women were missing out on their HRT prescriptions and suffering symptoms as a result.

Ministers said women were swapping their drugs in car parks in desperation.

More than a million women are thought to take HRT, with prescriptions now twice as widespread as five years ago.

Menopause awareness is better than ever – thanks in part to our Menopause Matters campaign and the “Davina McCall effect” – meaning more women are confident to ask their GP for drugs. 

A number of strategies were used to alleviate pressure on the supply chain.

Pharmacists were given greater freedoms to supply alternative medicines if a woman’s usual HRT was not available.

The Government limited some HRT products to three month prescriptions, rather than six. 

Suppliers have also secured additional stock.

Officials said that there was a “substantial increase” in the supply of Oestrogel in July – one of the main products caught up in supply issues earlier this year.

One of the key problems Ms McTernan was looking at were formularies.

Doctors are unable to prescribe any medicines that are not on their local formulary, meaning only some women in the country were able to get new treatments that would have eased supply pressure.

Ms McTernan called for “continued assessment whether NHS formularies may be impacting access to HRT”.

“I am pleased to see the situation with HRT supply is improving across the country,” she said.

“I want to thank suppliers and manufacturers for their engagement and positive action to tackle this serious issue.

“I have presented my key learnings on how the department can continue to manage HRT supply and work with the industry as it continues efforts to meet rising demand.”

The next phase of the Covid booster programme is being planned by the NHS, with around 26 million people across England invited over the autumn. 

A new version of the jab which can protect against Omicron will be given.

The rollout is set to start on 5 September in England, with housebound people and those in care homes the first to be offered jabs.