Labour's strategy is right up our Streeting!

11/03/24 . Blog

The Forum is delighted to hear that Labour is considering a men’s health strategy.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said he felt ‘enraged’ about failures to tackle male health issues.

Streeting seems to get that taking men’s health seriously does not mean neglecting women’s health. It is not a zero-sum game. In fact, healthier men means healthier women - and vice versa.

He told the Telegraph: ‘I have been very outspoken about the fact that it takes seven and a half years for women to receive a diagnosis for a common condition like endometriosis, and outraged that a universal experience like menopause is still treated as if it’s a rare condition affecting an alien species.

‘I feel just as enraged about failures in men’s health, whether that’s the mental health crisis that’s taking young men’s lives too soon, or the rates of preventable death in areas like prostate cancer and testicular cancer. I will bring that focus to both men’s health and women’s health to government,’ he said, later posting on social media that Labour was committed to a men's health strategy.

Looking overseas

British politicians can be very insular so we’re particularly pleased that Labour have been looking overseas to see how men’s health strategies have worked in, for example, Australia and Ireland. In 2008 when Ireland introduced its men’s health strategy, male life expectancy in Ireland and in the UK were much the same. Now men in Ireland can expect to live two years longer than men in the UK and, with male life expectancy falling in the UK, the gap could well widen.

Labour have also been listening to discussions nearer home including the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee inquiry into men’s health and the evidence the Forum and other organisations have presented to it.

Reduce polarisation

The Forum, of course, has been calling for a men’s health strategy for some time now. In 2022 we wrote a letter, backed by more than 40 organisations, to then health secretary Steve Barclay urging him to take action.

If Labour is going to act on this and provide a men’s health strategy to run alongside the women’s health strategy this government has already promised, it could make a massive difference to the health of men and women in this country. It would also make a wider contribution. If all parties shared a ‘gender-informed’ approach to health it could help begin to reduce the excessive polarisation in UK political debate which will, frankly, improve everyone’s mental health. A very beneficial side-effect.

Streeting's social media post

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.

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