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Gender equality is gender bending

Ian Banks, chair of the Men's Health Forum, GP and self-care champion, has told the Working in Partnership Programme (WiPP) what he feels will be the consequences of the Gender Equality Act, which comes into force in April.

"For PCT managers, GP practice-based commissioners, pharmacies and all the rest of the hard-pressed NHS it sounds like yet another daft hoop to jump through just to show 'fit for purpose'," commented Dr Banks. "Right in the middle of a national health provision crisis with so many PCTs' backs to the wall, bricklayers seem a better idea than lawyers. So why now? And for that matter why Y and why the XX factor?"

In April all NHS deliverers of health services or health information will need to do so with gender equality. This will be a legal requirement.

Dr Banks feels that this is a bad idea, and that both sexes will come off second best when it comes to delivering health services without first taking into consideration the age, ethnic culture, social class, social isolation and gender. "It's not a matter or being better or worse, just simply different," commented Dr Banks. "Work from the Men's Health Forum shows that men and women take up and act upon health information very differently depending upon the way it is presented."

As an example Dr Banks spoke about early diagnosis. "Being a prostate owner doesn't necessarily mean you must inevitably die on average eight years earlier, but tell this to men living in Glasgow living on average 67 years compared with Dorset's 78 years. An average sentence for murder in terms of life expectancy, simply for being male, is hard to swallow, not least when current government compulsory pension policies will mean Scottish men paying for the extended life of Dorset men living on their allotments in Spain."

Until the age of around 50 years men use general practice services half as much as do women. However, according to Dr Banks, over-50 males account for by far the greatest number of A&E admissions and consequently bed use in hospital wards.

Dr Banks advocates taking a different approach to men when it comes to healthcare, "Going to where men actually are, the work place for instance, as WiPP is now doing with its self-care programmes, is now well established in areas such as weight reduction, cancer awareness and early diagnosis." This approach, however, goes against the Gender Equality Act, but, as Dr Banks warns, "Bending is always better than breaking, ask any tree."

For more information on Dr Bank's statement see For more information on the Gender Equality Act go to the Equal Opportunities Commission website -