My role




Time to end 'ONE SIZE FITS ALL' health care

The Equality Act 2006 created an important new duty for NHS organisations: the 'gender duty'. The Men's Health Forum, the leading voluntary organisation promoting a gender-sensitive approach to health, is uniquely placed to offer help and information to enable organisations to prepare for and comply with the duty.

What does the 'Gender Duty' mean?

Since April 2007, the gender duty has required NHS organisations to:

  • Actively promote equality between men and women. Since men do worse in many areas of health, specific actions are needed to improve male health.
  • Understand the impact of their work on men and women as distinct groups.
  • Consult and engage people from all groups of the community in making decisions and policies on issues that affect them as men and women.
  • Produce and publish a gender equality scheme in consultation with stakeholder groups. The schemes must be reviewed every three years.
  • Ensure that contractors carrying out public functions on behalf of the NHS also implement the new duties.
  • Conduct and publish gender impact assessments covering all major proposed developments in policies and services.
  • Consider gender equality issues at the beginning of policy making, assess the likely impact of policies on men and women, and ensure that policies promote gender equality.
  • Take account of any evidence that men and women have different needs, experiences, concerns or priorities when developing policies and services.
  • Collect data on service user needs, satisfaction and outcomes broken down by gender.
  • Ensure that women and men make greater use of services that their sex had previously under-used.
  • Ensure all relevant staff understand the new duties and their implications.
  • NHS organisations' compliance with the duty will be overseen by the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights and the Healthcare Commission.

Read about the five men's health issues the gender duties must address.

Visit the Resources and links page for more info from MHF and others, including the NHS Sefton's men's health plan.

What is 'Gender Mainstreaming'?

The new duties require a significant change in policy and practice and what has been described as 'gender mainstreaming'. This means fully integrating an awareness of male and female health needs strategically and operationally throughout an organisation. It means moving beyond the assumption that 'gender' is limited to occasional awareness campaigns on sex-specific issues.

The Equality Act requires health organisations to develop and deliver effective work to improve men's health on a wide-ranging and systematic basis. While some organisations have a good track record in this area, for many it represents a new area of activity that will require significant support.

Find out how we can help

For information on training, consultancy or anything else from the Forum related to the gender duty, please contact us using the box below:

Page created on September 19th, 2008

Page updated on January 14th, 2010