Men’s Health Forum: response to NHS Long-Term Plan

14/01/19 . News

Martin Tod, Chief Executive of the Men’s Health Forum, commented:

There’s a lot to welcome in the NHS Long-Term plan, although still opportunities to strengthen it further by taking into account the particular challenges of men’s health. 

We’re pleased to see the role of dads strongly recognised – with a commitment to including dads in perinatal mental health assessments and plans to support the partners of expectant mothers to stop smoking.

It’s also good to see the plans to introduce HPV vaccination for boys explicitly referenced, although we remain keen to see a catch-up programme implemented.

We’re also very positive about the recognition that FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) can improve men’s participation in bowel cancer screening – and would welcome its faster roll-out.

It was encouraging also to see a gendered analysis of issues such as life expectancy, the proportion of life in good health, cancer mortality rates, suicide rates and, most usefully, the life expectancy inequality gap for men between the most and least deprived parts of England.

Many of the other priorities – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, suicide prevention – as well as a stronger focus on preventing the problems caused by alcohol and smoking – also have the potential to make a major difference to men’s health – since they are disproportionately common amongst men. 

The focus on employment and health is also very welcome – since men are much more likely to be in full-time work – and often prioritise work ahead of their health. The impact of unemployment can be particularly devastating for men’s health and wellbeing.

And the focus on person-centred care can only be good – since this increases the likelihood that different men’s particular needs will be met.

There are gaps though.

The prevention agenda will be more effective if it explicitly identifies that preventative programmes often need to be designed differently for men and women if they are to be most effective – and that some conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are particularly common amongst men.  The plan shows a range of useful gendered data, but does less to reflect the implications of that gendered data in its planning.

The plan also needs to recognise that some programmes – such as the NHS Health Check and the National Diabetes Prevention Programme have underperformed in reaching men.

The plan would also benefit from recognising that some of the groups the plan aims to target – such as rough sleepers and people in contact with the criminal justice system – are overwhelmingly men.

And, like many, we welcome the plan’s ambitions for prevention and care, but are concerned that they will be hard to achieve if the Government does not provide adequate funding to public health and adult social care.

The plan can be found online at

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.

Registered with the Fundraising Regulator