My role


When little acorns begin to grow...

Photo of Alan WhiteLast month we saw the launch of the Forum's Getting it Sorted policy programme for men's health, which laid out our vision for how the services for men should develop over the coming years, writes Alan White, chair of the Forum's trustees. It is a bold agenda for change but we believe that now is the time to move on and seriously tackle the issues that so negatively impact on the health of men of all ages.

One key area within Getting it Sorted is the need for greater sensitivity and responsiveness to the way men use, or don't use, conventional health services. The health risks for men in delaying seeking help when faced with a change in their physical well-being has not yet been fully costed out either in personal or economic terms but the implication of late diagnosis of disease, with the reduced opportunities for remedial action and the expense of hospitalisation are huge.

Failure to seek effective help when faced with emotional problems is equally damaging with, as figures from the health Statistics Quarterly for Winter 2003 showed, suicide being the biggest cause of death in men under 45 years.

Although men's health is not yet a national priority, encouraging evidence of a change in practice comes from the Men's Health Forum's database of projects and initiatives on men's health which began in 2001 with a Department of Health grant. When the database was first launched we were only able to identify 86 projects in England and Wales that were specifically focused on men and their health, now we have details on over 205.


Between 2001 and now some projects have withered on the vine, but there are some that have been there since the database was first constructed and have stood the test of time. Through the registrations for the National Men's Health Week we also know that there are many more practitioners who once a year put a great deal of time, energy and imagination into setting up services to help men during the week in June. When the week first ran two years ago there were about 200 projects registered, last year well over a 1,000 events took place and this year the number will be even higher.

On the database are large scale endeavours such as the work being carried out by the Men's Health Forum (Scotland), the Health Improvement Programme for men co-ordinated by Meryl Johnson in South Worcester and The £1m New Opportunities funded Health of Men team in Airedale and Bradford (reports from which can be download here and here)

The majority of projects, however, are on a much smaller scale. They comprise small teams of dedicated workers who have had the insight to see that men's health needs to be tackled in new and innovative ways and have fought to identify money to fund it, rather than it being a strategic goal of the Government or PCT, pump primed and centrally supported. Given the funding allocated to PCT's for health care amounted to £54.5bn last year it is hoped that as the awareness of Government grows and as our 'Getting it Sorted' policy becomes accepted, then more of this money can be specifically dedicated to setting up services that aim to target men and thus ultimately see improvement in men's health.

From these little local acorns, big projects - and even bigger savings in resources and lives - can grow.

Page created on May 10th, 2004

Page updated on December 1st, 2009