You could count the number of CCGs with a clinical lead for men’s health on the fingers of one hand.
The Men’s Health Forum sent a Freedom of Information request to all 212 of the NHS’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). Over 200 responded and just four had a named specialist clinical lead for men’s health - less than 2%.
This matters because it is the CCGs, which include all the GPs in their locality, who commission hospital and community health services and thus shape the NHS more than any other body.
CCGs are charged with getting the best possible health outcomes for their local population, by assessing local needs, deciding priorities and strategies, and then buying in services. To do this, they often appoint clinical leads to provide leadership for the development of services locally in relation to a particular need. Typically CCGs have around half a dozen clinical leads charged with issues such as planned care, urgent care, information technology, prescribing, mental health, children’s health or major disease areas such as cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Women do little better
There are three times as many clinical leads for women’s health as there are for men although this is still a relatively small number - just 14 out of over 200. Without specialist clinical leads, the risk of the gender dimension to health being overlooked or neglected can only be be increased.
The Forum also asked if CCGs had specific policies or ran specific programmes to improve the health of men and/or boys. Some 26 CCGs said yes - about 15%.
This finding on gender leads coupled with the Men's Health Forum's earlier findings showing how little gender-related health data is collected by local authorities adds up to a picture of local health in which gender is largely absent. (Only 18% of local authorities used gender-differentiated adequately in their joint strategic needs assessments of health needs in their area.)
So who are this elite few, the CCG clinical leads on men’s health? We’d like to name and praise NHS Oxfordshire CCG (clinical lead for men’s health: Dr Shelly Hayles); NHS North Staffordshire CCG (Dr Paul Unyolo); NHS Brent CCG (Nisheeth Rajpal) and NHS Leicester City CCG (Tony Bentley).
Our message to other CCGs: nobody’s saying you’re necessarily neglecting men’s health but without a clinical lead charged with looking out for the gender dimension, how can you be sure?