Specialist men’s health clinics in Scotland have been forced to close because their funding has dried up.
The clinics were established throughout the country after the Scottish Executive handed out grants of more than £4 million two years ago. In the Lothians region, five regular clinics were set up to encourage men to have a check-up and think about the impact their lifestyle was having on their health. But now NHS Lothian has said it will not consider extending funding to the clinics until a national evaluation is completed later this year.
Mark Ward, national coordinator with the Men's Health Forum Scotland, said: ‘When planning and delivering health services, it's crucial that gender is taken into account. The point of the clinics was to find new and innovative ways to provide primary care services for men which were much more proactive instead of waiting until the onset of ill health.’
Life expectancy among males in Scotland remains among the worst in Europe and studies have shown that men visit their doctors half as often as women.
Mr Ward also said that men were often hard to reach because they were reluctant to talk about their health or admit if something was wrong. As well as changing men's attitudes, the clinics were aimed at people who were finding it difficult to access services.
One of the clinics to close was based at Tollcross Health Centre in Edinburgh and operated once a week for two hours.
Dr Alison McCallum, the director of public health at NHS Lothian, said: ‘The Men's Health Clinic at Tollcross Health Centre was part of the Men's Health Project running in NHS Lothian. This was a Scottish Executive-funded pilot which has now come to an end. It was aimed at developing and enhancing health services for men. Evaluation of the pilot project is under way and will not be complete until the end of 2006.’
Dr McCallum said once the results of a national evaluation are released later this year, NHS Lothian would consider funding the most successful services.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said it was now up to individual health boards to take services forward. She said: ‘Resources previously targeted for Well Man clinic pilots will now be diverted to support the roll-out of Prevention 2010, a new programme to develop preventative care in communities across Scotland.’
She added: ‘We need to shift the focus of the NHS from illness to wellbeing, from treating ill health to preventing it. Only by doing this can we tackle the deep roots of health inequality in Scotland.’