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MHF calls for Equality Act implementation

The Forum is launching a national campaign to ensure that NHS and other public bodies take gender fully into account when planning and delivering services.

The Forum believes that the new Equality Act which comes into force next April is the most significant opportunity to improve men's healthsince the formation of the NHS in 1948. Under the Act, primary care trusts and other NHS and public bodies will be required to deliver effective work to tackle gender inequalities in health. Because men's health is so poor in many areas, this means that specific measures will now have to be taken to improve it.

Dr Ian Banks, President of the Men's Health Forum, said: 'Our concern is that the NHS is not engaged with this issue at a senior management level and that there is little understanding of what gender means. The government needs to do much more to improve the NHS's readiness to implement and encourage compliance, through training and information.'

The launch of the new campaign was scheduled for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Men's Health meeting at the House of Commons to discuss the new Act. The Group will be urged to clarify to what extent GPs are included in the Act and how this will be managed.

Dr Banks added: 'The new legislation provides the biggest opportunity since the NHS was founded to improve male health.

'However we know that enacting well meaning legislation does not guarantee compliance or even recognition. There is a widespread lack of awareness of gender throughout health policy and services. There is also a lack of political pressure to tackle gender inequalities in health.

'So over the next few months the Men's Health Forum will be seeking to publicise as widely as possible what public sector health providers at local and national level will be expected to deliver to address the health needs of men. And we will be monitoring the implementation of the new gender duty.

'The "one size fits all" approach to health care planning has failed men, as the statistics show:

  • men live five years fewer than women
  • men are twice as likely to develop a cancer that can affect both sexes and twice as likely to die
  • men are more likely to consumer alcohol, illegal drugs or be overweight
  • men are more likely to develop or die from cardiovascular disease
  • three times as many men commit suicide
  • men are much less likely to visit their GP than women'.

Howard Stoate, MP, chairman of the All Party Group, said: 'This is an unprecedented chance to see that the unacceptably poor health of men is properly taken into account when planning and delivering services. And it is also important to remember that the new gender duty should also achieve better health for women and girls.

'What is now required is a significant change in policy and practice. The time for a new gender sensitive approach is here. Gender inequalities should be at the heart of policy-making and service provision across the public sector.'

The new Equality Act requires NHS organisations to:

  • actively promote equality between men and women
  • understand the impact of their work on men and women as distinct groups
  • consult people from all groups of the community in making decisions that effect them as men and women
  • publish a gender equality scheme
  • publish gender impact assessments

The Men's Health Forum campaign will be pressing for future data to be routinely collected, presented and considered in gender-disaggregated form, for Strategic Health Authorities to appoint a 'gender lead' to champion the issue at the local level, for a model training programme to be developed for NHS staff at all levels and for the development of a central database of good practice.

It also wants to see PCTs set up formal consultation processes with menand review all existing targets to take account of gender differences.

The Forum is developing a programme of training and consultancy to assist those delivering public services to meet their requirements under the new gender duties. The Forum can also provide health awareness information aimed specifically at men on a wide range of health issues.

Page created on November 21st, 2006

Page updated on December 1st, 2009