Saturday, March 30, 2013

Coming soon - New training resource for clinicians and commissioners on men's health

The introduction to the new video, which will be launched next month

Legacy resource
One project we didn't have time to complete and launch before the closure of NHS North West and our equalities team was a new resource aimed at helping commissioners and primary care clinicians to tackle the health inequalities experienced by men and boys as a group.
We will be finishing and launching it next month though, in our own time.
The idea for this development began when we had talks with one of our strategic stakeholder partner organisations, the Men's Health Forum (MHF) last year.
The MHF were looking for some investment to support running a couple of events to educate NHS commissioners and primary care staff about one of society's greatest areas of health inequality … the shorter life expectancy and poorer health outcomes for men and boys.
This idea of stakeholder groups coming to us with evidence-backed proposals for strategic interventions was something we encouraged. Rather than people just coming to us with problems, we always preferred them putting forward practical solutions which we could work on together.

When I looked at the initial request from the MHF, it was obvious that the education they proposed to provide to managers and clinicians would be valuable. I've seen their presentations before, and I know their evidence and best practice ideas are sound. However, I thought we could better what they were asking to do.

It was all very well supporting one or two events, but how far would the effects of those reach? This is a national challenge. A little intervention in just one part of the country would not make much of a dent in the problem.

I thought that if we were investing money in this area we should do it much more strategically, and produce a resource that could be used over and over within the NHS for a long time to come.

Thus the plan for this video package was born, along with the plans for how it will be used.

It's another one of our legacy projects.

Taking it forward

The Men's Health Forum will be responsible for taking it forward. We've simply invested in them having the tools to do the job.

They will be running educational events nationwide using the video as part of the overall package.

They will also be teaching GPs and CCG leaders about established best practice ideas for reaching out to men and boys.

But the video material could also be used on its own too, to encourage GPs (in particular) to think differently about how to reach men and boys.

Not rocket science

Part of all this is about understanding the various ways in which the health and wellbeing prospects of men and boys could be improved, just through a combination of more effective screening and getting men to change their (and their sons') behaviours.

Part of it is about communicating techniques that work, to get men and boys engaged in helping themselves. Some NHS managers will tell you (without a trace of irony) that men are 'hard to reach'. This is clearly absurd. The trick is to understand the different approaches needed to engage more successfully.

None of this is actually rocket science.

The health research has existed for years. And the engagement techniques have been shown to work where they've been tried. Some of the Primary Care Trusts in the North West had already set up some very promising schemes which I hope will continue beyond the reorganisation.

However, it is too easy for both clinicians and policymakers to fall into the lazy assumption that these kinds of health inequalities are set in stone as 'natural differences' between men and women.

The neglect then contributes to massive differences in health outcomes between men and women in comparable circumstances, and between groups of men in different parts of the country.


The final editing of the film was finished earlier this week and DVD copies of the video are now in production. We'll also arrange for it to be available online and I will host an audio version on the Podcast which complements this blog.

It includes some great contributions by MHF and European Men's Health Forum President, Professor Ian Banks; MHF Trustee and epidemiologist Professor Alan White; and former MHF Chief Executive, Peter Baker, who now works as an independent consultant in this field.

The Men's Health Forum are developing the training and associated marketing around a new initiative, which our video helps make possible.

MHF will also now be responsible for launching all of this, on 30th April, in Manchester. For details contact the Men's Health Forum.


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