Care equality rules won't help men
From Dr Anita Sharma, Oldham
Under the service improvement plan of the Equality Act 2006, a physician has to provide equal healthcare services to men and women.Yet I can say with confidence that no matter how many acts or policies are brought in, men will always have a tendency to bury their heads in the sand on health matters, often coming out with an excuse that they did not want to waste their doctor's time.Sometimes they are dragged in by their partners as if they are little kids.I practise in a lower socioeconomic area where men die on average five years earlier then women and many well before their 65th birthday.I did a computer search and found cardiovascular disease was the main cause followed by cancer.By addressing some of the preventable risk factors such as smoking, obesity and alcohol, and encouraging more exercise, I felt I could close the gap.I invited our local cardiologist to talk to a group that included men above the age of 45. Leaflets were printed, posters stuck in the local pubs, gym and local library. Patients of other practices were invited too. The local newspaper carried an advertisement free of charge.Men came, holding the hands of their partners as if brought in by force, and listened to the talk. I felt a sense of achievement.The same exercise was repeated in a local hotel six months later. This time a local diabetologist was invited. Again there was a good attendance and lots of reading material was given this time, provided by the pharmaceutical companies.Have I seen a change in their behaviour? Are they attending health checks when invited? The answer is no.Men are a different breed and can't be changed.I tried and failed. Would the Equality Act change the way we provide care to men and women?