A new report into men’s health in Torbay and Devon has sparked a plea from local NHS services urging the region’s male population to ask for help if they need to and to use the NHS for advice as early as possible.
The report, produced by local independent health and care champion Healthwatch, presents findings from its December 2022 to January 2023 survey on men’s health and the feedback shared by 132 local men.
It revealed, amongst other things, that most local men who responded have never been shown how to carry out a testicular examination and explained what to look for; only half of men provided with a bowel cancer screening test completed & returned it; and also that most men would like to understand more about prostate or cancer issues.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust approached Healthwatch in Torbay and Devon to support them in collecting feedback from men of all ages who access healthcare services in Torbay and South Devon, to help them to understand what matters to men and how they can be better informed about their health and wellbeing.
In Torbay, females can expect to live 4 years longer than males, higher than the national average, with prostate, lung and bowel cancers together accounting for more than half of all new cases in males in the UK. In Devon, suicide is 3.6 times more common among men than among women, also higher than the national average.
This new Healthwatch report forms part of a wider engagement project by Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust, who are looking at how local health services can be developed and improved to ensure men are better informed about the health issues that affect them now and in the future.
Responding to the report, Liz Davenport, Chief Executive at Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust said: “We are grateful to Healthwatch Devon, Plymouth and Torbay for undertaking this really important work on our behalf, and to the men who took the time to share their views with us.
“We are committed to reducing health inequalities and believe everyone should have the same access to healthcare, regardless of where they live, their age or their gender. We know that some men do not access healthcare in a timely way, or feel unable to ask for help and advice and when they do it may be later than we would like. We want to improve this.
“The results of Healthwatch’s survey give detailed insights into what matters to men, and how they approach their health. What they have told us will help us and our partners to work together to improve services people rely upon, and ensure their needs are met now and in the future.”
Pat Harris, Strategic Lead for Healthwatch in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, welcomed the response from the Trust: “We are glad this report has been well-received by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and echo their appeal to our male loved ones to ask for help and advice as early as possible. I would like to thank the Trust for asking us to host this consultation and all the men who shared their thoughts and feedback with us in this report.
“The findings do indicate that there are topics where knowledge and awareness could be improved, particularly around testicular self-examinations, bowel cancer screening and risks associated with prolonged sun exposure and poor mental health. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Trust to engage further with men across the area to look at these specific themes.
“I would also like to ask our male population to share their experiences of using local health or care services – good or bad – with us here at Healthwatch. We can make sure that those responsible services locally understand what is working well and where change and improvement is needed. Your feedback will make a positive difference.”
Key findings from the Healthwatch Men’s Health Report
132 local men completed the Healthwatch survey, which ended on February 1st 2023.
• The top 4 topics that respondents indicated they would like to understand more about are:
o Prostate Issues / Cancer – 81% of respondents
o Malignant Melanoma (skin cancer) – 43% of respondents
o Testicular Abnormalities – 39% of respondents
o Mental Health – 39% of respondents
• The top 4 topics respondents find most difficult to talk about are:
o Erectile Dysfunction – 65% of respondents
o Mental Health – 48% of respondents
o Testicular Abnormalities – 42% of respondents
o Prostate Issues / Cancer – 39% of respondents
• 82% of respondents were aware that the leading cause of death for men aged 50-79 years was cardio-vascular (heart) disease.
• 89% of respondents were surprised to learn that only 53% of men provided with a bowel cancer screening test, completed & returned it.
• 86% of respondents were surprised to learn that more men than women are dying of Melanoma Skin Cancers.
• 77% of respondents have never been shown how to carry out a testicular examination and explained what to look for.
Read the full report online via www.healthwatchtorbay.co.uk and www.healthwatchdevon.co.uk.
To feedback about your experiences of health and care services in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, contact Healthwatch on 0800 520 0640, email email@example.com or visit: healthwatchdevon.co.uk, healthwatchplymouth.co.uk, or healthwatchtorbay.org.uk
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