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MHF calls for 'male-friendly' GP surgeries

In the run up to National Men's Health Week (15 to 21 June), MHF is calling for GP surgeries countrywide to become more male-friendly in order to encourage better use of services. 

A recent MHF survey with 830 male respondents found that 45% still feel put off from seeing a doctor. 

The MHF poll found that the most common reason for men staying away was inconvenient opening hours followed by an inability to get time off work[1]. The MHF believes that standard opening hours seriously disadvantage men, especially blue collar workers - many of whom risk losing a day's pay for clocking off to visit the doctor.

Dr Ian Banks, president of the MHF said "Too many men suffer unnecessarily poor health and die too young from preventable causes. We need to ensure that services provided are tailored more to the needs of men, and then encourage them to make more use of what's available.” 

Dr Banks continues, "In Great Britain, men visit their GP 20% less frequently than women. The difference in usage is most noticable for the 16-44 age group, with women of this age more than twice as likely to use services as men[2]. Women have higher consultation rates for a wide range of illnesses, so the gender differences cannot be explained simply by their need for contraceptive and pregnancy care[3]. What's also critically important is that men tend to turn up at health services when their conditions are more advanced, making them harder to treat.

"The majority of primary care services are not 'male-friendly' environments. The NHS must address men's under-use of GPs as well as their under-use of  pharmacies, smoking cessation, weight management services and health trainers and look for ways to develop a gender-sensitive approach to service provison.

"Better marketing of the available services, like walk-in centres, pharmacies or surgeries with extended opening hours, could also significantly increase male uptake and improved health outcomes.”

This year's National Men's Health Week will concentrate specifically on men's under-use of primary health services. MHF will be challenging policy makers in the health sector and wider government to develop services to close the gender gap, in addition to challenging men themselves to make small changes to their lifestyle which will help to improve their long-term health.

[1] 27 % of respondents said the key factor which prevented them going to the doctor was inconvenient opening hours of the surgery. 7% said they couldn't get time off work.

[2] Office of National Statistics, General Household Survey 2007. (accessed 13 May 2009)

[3] Bajekal M, el al (2006), Focus on Health.

Page created on June 4th, 2009

Page updated on December 1st, 2009