A new digital service for men – without the latex glove
Men’s under-use of primary care services, not least general practice, is well known. Not only do men, especially younger men, consult less often than women, but they also take significantly longer to seek help when they have a health problem. Various solutions have been suggested – such as longer opening hours, easier-to-use appointment-booking systems and making the clinic ambience appear more ‘male-friendly’ (with Top Gear and FourFourTwo magazines in the waiting room alongside leaflets and posters about men’s health issues) – but none of these has been properly tested.
There has recently been a pilot of a new type of service, run by the Men’s Health Forum charity, that could show the way forward. ‘Man MOT’ was a suite of free-to-use, male-targeted, accessible and anonymous health advice and information services at the centre of which sat a live text chat and e-mail enquiry service staffed by NHS GPs. Man MOT succeeded in engaging significant numbers of men, especially young men and those with concerns about sexual health, urological and mental health issues.
Read Peter Baker’s article: ‘Man MOT’: a new approach to primary care for men
In 2017/18, NHS England plans to launch a new programme to offer every GP practice support to adopt online consultation systems. The experience of Man MOT suggests such systems could be particularly beneficial for men.
But will the likely absence of anonymity leave a significant barrier in place for many men? Is a service provided by a men’s health charity likely to be more user-friendly than a one-size-fits-all NHS service? What else needs to change to make primary care services more accessible to men who have been advised to call in following an online consultation?
Let us know what you think below.
Director, Global Action on Men’s Health and Associate, Men’s Health Forum