17 Jul 2014

The inequalities men face when it comes to their health are at the heart of Men United v Prostate Cancer. These inequalities were also the subject of a new report we took to Westminster on 18 June, when 31 supporter campaigners from around the country met with their MPs and urged them to take action for men’s health.

Our report, Men United: five inequalities, five solutions identifies five distinct areas where the UK needs to pull its socks up and make some changes to improve the situation for men with prostate cancer. The report outlines injustices around awareness of prostate cancer, understanding of risk and data collection in Black men, the standard of care men receive in different parts of the country, the information and treatments that men of different ages are offered, and access to prostate cancer drugs.

The good news is that we also outline some fairly simple steps that MPs could take to help us address these issues. And our supporter campaigners were just the men and women to persuade them to do it.

Stuart Watson, who’s attended all four campaign days said, ‘We have to recognise that MPs, on almost any issue, will have their own agenda. The question is getting them onto our agenda.’

Between them, our volunteers spoke to 79 MPs and four peers, and asked them to write to NHS England, Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health and Sir Andrew Dillon, the Chief Executive of NICE to demand changes for men with prostate cancer.

David Burrowes, MP summed up the importance of our campaign and of taking action to address the inequalities men with prostate cancer face: ‘The report by Prostate Cancer UK makes important and grim reading. It’s up to all of us Members of Parliament to get on board with spreading the message to communities everywhere that they need to take prostate cancer seriously.’

And the best bit? The MPs we spoke to on the day have already started sending letters, and they’ve even had some responses back. Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, on behalf of the Department for Health, has told us that they are setting up groups to consider how to address the inequalities experienced by older patients and Black patients. And that they are actively considering how to target prostate cancer awareness messaging to Black men who are at greater risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

A response from NHS England contained similar messages, but also acknowledged that they need to do more to raise awareness of the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme among GPs and men, which states that every man over 50 has the right to a PSA test after a discussion with their doctor.

Our next steps are clear – we need to keep up the pressure to make sure that these promises are kept, and lobby to be involved in designing any prostate cancer awareness programme.

You can read more about the campaigning day from Drew, our Head of Policy & Campaigns in his blog post. We’re also getting ready to launch a Scottish version of the report in Holyrood so watch this space.

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