It seems to be good news all around for men and health. With the first ever all party parliamentary group for men's health issues being launched in March this year, and an announcement that men will now be entitled to ask their GP for a test to detect prostate cancer. It appears both the government and health professionals are well on their way to taking men's health seriously.
But are health professionals making real strides forward in addressing the inequalities in men's health? We know that men don't access health care in the same way that women do and for many men, the GPs surgery is a place to avoid.
The difficulty lies not only in what we have on offer for men once we get them through the door, but how we get them there in the first place. Having recently changed GPs because my own GP, who I happened to work for, retired, I was suddenly confronted with the real world of the NHS. On phoning to make an appointment I was informed that unless it was urgent I would have to wait 10 days. My immediate reaction to this news was that I would be either dead or cured by then so I didn't bother.
The fact that I am still alive 11 days after makes me think this is possibly a good tactic, it gets rid of time wasters leaving more time to treat real problems. But how will men know what 'real problems' are unless they are educated to understand what early signs should prompt them to visit their GP.
Having set up clinics in pubs, clubs, betting shops and other male friendly venues I realised that, despite public opinion, most men are interested in their health, they just wouldn't go to the surgery to find out more about it. In fact nearly all those questioned said they found going to the surgery a waste of time unless they were really ill. So where does that leave education and prevention?
Some health workers are starting to be more creative and innovative in the way health care is delivered to men, but many are still being held back by PCG/Ts, health authorities and management red tape along with difficulty in changing old styles of working for new. Let's face it, it's always been easier to stick with what we know in the health service, even if we know its not working, because there is often no alternative for our customers.
So where should we go from here? To really improve services, their needs to be investment in health professionals specifically employed to take new ideas in tackling men's health forward. There need to be funds made available by PCG/Ts to encourage innovation in this area of men's health, and their needs to be commitment from management to allow health professionals in this field to really get things moving. So stop yacking and lets have some action.
Page created on March 26th, 2002
Page updated on December 1st, 2009