My role


Colin welcomes the Year of the Male

Supporting the Year of the Male

The MHF is supoprting a new campaign from CALM called the Year of the Male. You should pledge your support too.

Our friends at CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, have named 2014 The Year of the Male and launched a Charter for Contemporary Man, which the Men's Health Forum has helped to form. We are encouraging you to pledge support for the Charter.

The Charter is signed by a coalition including the Men's Health Forum. It calls for:

  • a fuller range of expression of masculinity in the media and advertising
  • a shift in thinking about men and boys' needs in the provision of public services
  • a challenge to assumptions about men's roles and skills in the workplace
  • a rethink of the roles, responsibilities and rights of men in family life.

You can read more about the campaign, and other activities that will be going on throughout the year at and @yearofthemale.

Colin looks at research on helping male football fans live a healthier lifestyle

Scottish research on Scottish fans a lesson for all

An initiative that helps male football fans feel better and live a healthier lifestyle by losing weight, taking more exercise, and improving their diet has been a resounding success, according to new research published in The Lancet and BMC Public Health.

The Glasgow University-led team ran a randomised controlled trial of 747 male football fans with a body-mass index (BMI) of 28 kg/m² or higher from 13 Scottish professional football clubs.

Professor Sally Wyke, one of the two Principal Investigators from the University of Glasgow said: “We now have ‘gold standard’ evidence that the FFIT programme can help men lose weight and keep it off. After 12 months, the difference in weight loss between men who did the programme and men in a comparison group, who did not do the programme, was 4·94kg.”


Colin on leaked news on HPV

Boys could be vaccinated against HPV

The Guardian reported that:

Government advisers are to consider whether the HPV vaccine, routinely offered to girls at the ages of 12 and 13 since 2008 to help protect them against cervical cancer, should also be offered to boys and some men.

This is still being considered but at least it is now being considered. Keep an eye out for its inclusion in our new report on men and cancer, due this week!



Colin - the low ambition on GP practice hours

Almost a quarter are unhappy with the hours their GP practice offers

It seems a point of pride that only 77% are happy with the hours their GP offers.

At least that how it seemed when health minister Norman Lamb answered a parliamentary question about GP services.

Surely this marks a particular lack of ambition in what is classed as good.

In fact it could be a lot worse. This figure is based on the GP patient satisfaction survey. You will only have been able to participate in this survey if you are regsietered with a GP in the period it covers.

Men are 20% less likely to visit a GP and less likely to be registered with a GP.

GP practice hours a real problem for you? Hours so bad there's no point in being registered? Not been to the GP for so long that you've been 'cleaned' from the list? You were not asked.

Perhaps we could create services that meet men's needs. We could even work with men to find out what these might be. Something like we have done in Lambeth & Southwark and in Haringey.

Colin catches up on research on self care for men

Self-Man - men and self care

The MHF is a partner in the annual Self Care Week. This year's has just passed but I have been catching up on an interesting project at York Uni.

The Self-Man research looks at the fundamental questions on how men with long term conditions manage their health. It asks: How effective, accessible and acceptable are self-management support interventions for men with long-term conditions?

I spoke with Dr Paul Geldas at York who is leading the research with a team spread across universities in Glasgow, Manchester and York. It is well underway too, here's yesterday's update: 

This is no small project. It's funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

Find out more in the Self-Man research project newsletter and follow them on Twitter.

This is all good news but raises the question: why has no-one done this before?

Colin on QOF and named GPs

The proposed new GP contract drops men's health

Despite widespread fanfare about named GPs being responsible for the care of their elderly patients, the bonfire of QOF points got little attention despite the end of incentives to ask men about diabetes and ED.

The BBC ran the story that Frail patients to be given named GP to co-ordinate care. The Guardian did mention men's health at the end of New GP contract to move focus from targets to patients, says Hunt.

One of the newer items in the Quality and Outcomes Framework, QOF, was that GPs would ask men with diabetes about erection problems so that it could be treated and because ED can be an early sign of heart disease. GPs get points for doing things in the QOF and points mean prices. Well, extra pay.

In short, the link between diabetes and ED was seen as so important that GPs were incentivised to identify the problem which could then be treated. In 2011, the MHF worked with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Men's Health to highlight the importance of this issue.

As reported in the professional press, about 40% of QOF points will be wiped out. The argument is that GPs should be free of targets. Now Pulse, the magazine for GPs, reports there may be no change in bureaucracy as a result of the change.

We think there's a reason these incentives were introduced in the first place. Men were not being asked about ED, their quality of life was not improved and potentially fatal heart problems were not caught. Once asked, they could be offered treatment to fix it. 

Based on the comment by the BMA's Dr Vautrey in the Guardian article, we can expect a return to inaction and expecting men to suffer in silence.

"we had to keep reminding men with diabetes about their impotence by asking them every time they came to see a GP about their erectile dysfunction. It was wholly insensitive."



Colin on the new partnership website

Voluntary sector partners share their story

Following from our news update: A new website has been launched to share news from the organisations on the government's strategic partnership programme for voluntary sector health organisations.

The Men's Health Forum was appointed to the scheme run by the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England this spring. 

Despite the MHF's long history of working in partnership with other organisations, the programme is already increasing the work we do with others. We worked with the UK Health Forum on the new website but we are also looking at equalities data with Faith Action, the National Housing Federation, the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Partnership and Nacro.

Over the winter we are working on bringing a new website to life incorporating services from Haringey ManMOT

For more on the work of the voluntary sector strategic partnership visit the strategic partners portal. There is also the Twitter list.

The Forum worked with a group of organisations to launch the website with the development led by the UK Health Forum.



Colin asks if the NHS really needs 24/7

Does the NHS really need 24/7 opening?

This comment piece on the BBC website asks whether we need longer hours in the NHS but raises another important question. 

Nick Triggle's article looks at the recent debate around 'Tesco' style opening hours in the NHS. One bit really struck me, however: 

The health service has already tried to expand opening hours across GP practice.

Under Gordon Brown's premiership GPs were pushed into opening late into the evening and on Saturdays.

Most did, but some of the clinics failed to attract many patients and in a number of areas the extended opening has been reduced or stopped altogether.

We still hear men complaining about GPs only being open when they have to work. So, how were these extended hours promoted? What level of awareness was there?

If they were poorly promoted and awareness was low, is it any surprise that no-one turned up?