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Call to encourage men to visit GP

PCTs need to do more to encourage men to visit their GP, says a national charity campaigning for equal health treatment for men and women.

The Men's Health Forum is calling for action under the Equality Act, which comes into force in April, arguing that men are much less likely to visit their GP than women.

A recent survey by the forum revealed that men consider that practices put a greater emphasis on the needs of women and children. Many men said they were unhappy with the service provided for them because they found opening hours unhelpful and surgeries too bureaucratic.

Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men's Health Forum, said: 'The new Equality Act provides the greatest opportunity to improve male health since the foundation of the NHS.'

At the moment there is widespread ignorance and apathy about the new requirements. But it is possible to improve health services for men and to encourage men to use services effectively.'

As well as use of primary care services, the forum highlighted four areas where it wants the NHS to take action to help men – weight management, cancer, smoking and depression.

'At the moment men are being badly let down because of the "one size fits all" approach to healthcare that has bedevilled the NHS since its inception,' said Dr Banks.

Health gap between the sexes

• 67 per cent of men are overweight compared with 57 per cent of women
• Men are almost twice as likely as women to die from cancers that affect both sexes
• 43 per cent of participants in the 2002 NHS smoking cessation programme were men
• Men and women suffer equally from depression but men are less likely to seek help

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