HC Deb 26 October 1993 vol 230 cc683-4
8. Mrs. Gorman

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are available for health authorities to set up dedicated hormone replacement therapy clinics.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. John Bowis)

Health authorities are required to assess local needs and place contracts for services accordingly. These services may include clinics specialising in the menopause and hormone replacement therapy.

Mrs. Gorman

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that there are still relatively few specialist units around the country and that most are in the private sector? That means that women who rely on the national health service do not have access to such treatment unless they can afford to pay for it. Given the amazing benefit from that treatment, of which I am an amazing example—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] and the fact that this treatment could save the health service millions of pounds, because without it women are currently likely to suffer from osteoporosis, strokes and other terrible diseases, does my hon. Friend agree with me that the health service should be encouraged to dedicate funds to it so that lots more women can grow old gracefully?

Mr. Bowis

I know, and the world knows, of my hon. Friend's interest in this matter. She knows, as I know, that such therapy is available from the national health service in all its forms. The number of prescriptions for such treatment has quadrupled in the past decade. My hon. Friend will also be aware, as I am, that although HRT is one of the answers to diseases such as osteoporosis, there are many other ways in which to ensure that women grow old gracefully, as my hon. Friend said, and that brittle bones and other problems are avoided. My hon. Friend will be aware that one such alternative is exercise. Having seen my hon. Friend work out with her pompoms, I can assure the House that she takes that side of the argument as seriously as that in favour of HRT.

Mr. Tony Banks

The hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) is radiant proof of the efficacy of hormone replacement therapy. Will the Minister acknowledge that HRT is not help for women only, but many men could benefit from it—certainly an awful lot of men in this place?

Mr. Bowis

To be fair, I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman would benefit from remedies for problems related to the menopause, but I rely on him to assure me about that. Men and women benefit from better women's health, and women's health can be helped by that therapy. That is why in the past year we spent £61 million supporting it.