My role


New Commission must act on men's health 

The Forum has challenged the new Equality and Human Rights Commission to take immediate action to ensure that the NHS meets its obligations to improve the health of men.

Nicola BrewerIn a letter of welcome to Dr Nicola Brewer, pictured, the CEO of the Commission, MHF CEO Peter Baker says that the Forum's 'immediate and pressing concern' is the implementation of the gender equality duty by NHS primary care trusts.

Peter writes: 'It has become clear that virtually all of these trusts are not meeting a key basic requirement of the new legislation and we recommend that you investigate this as soon as possible.

'As you will know, public sector organisations were required to publish a gender equality scheme by the end of April 2007. In late-July, we surveyed every PCT in England (152 in total) and found that only 60 per cent had published a final scheme. The failure of 40 per cent of PCTs to publish a scheme on schedule is clearly a major obstacle to the achievement of gender equality in the NHS.

The MHF has also passed to the CEHR additional and more detailed concerns about the content of the gender equality schemes that were published. The MHF has found that, in most respects, all the published schemes failed to follow the code of practice:

  • 44% of published schemes did not mention any consultation process.
  • Just one PCT included gender-disaggregated data in relation to the use of health services locally.
  • Only five PCTs included gender-disaggregated data in relation to local health outcomes.
  • One scheme set an objective to ensure that all data is collected and used in a gender-disaggregated form in the future.
  • Two schemes included a section addressing the specific needs of women and one scheme did so for men.
  • Seven schemes identified one or more specific health services that should be improved in relation to men's health.
  • One scheme identified one or more health outcomes that should be improved for men.
  • Overall, the majority of schemes put more emphasis on internal process than the achievement of outcomes that would improve the health of men and women.

Peter concludes: 'The gender equality duty requires PCTs to have policies and procedures in place which take account of the different needs of men and women and which will lead to measurable improvements in health outcomes. This is clearly not yet happening. We believe there this failure must be urgently addressed if problems like men's relatively low life expectancy and poor use of primary care services are to be effectively tackled.

'The Commission for Equality and Human Rights must act to ensure the NHS takes its obligations seriously and commits itself to improving the health of men and women. I would be grateful if you could let me know what action you propose to take in light of the information in this letter.'

Page created on October 1st, 2007

Page updated on December 1st, 2009