Men need to be given time off by employers to attend GP appointments, MPs have heard.

Experts described how men are far less likely than women to seek help for health issues, with work being a reason why they hold back.

Martin Tod, chief executive of the Men’s Health Forum, told the Commons Health and Social Care Committee that people in white-collar jobs generally find it easier to access healthcare than those in more manual jobs, but all men are at a disadvantage.

He said, “Work is a particular factor in that men go to the doctor less than women, and they go to the GP less than women until the day they retire”.

He added: “If you look at the rate of which men and women say they go to the GP after retirement, there’s almost no difference between men and women. The difference is all in working age.”

He explained some of the reasons could be because men are more likely to be in full-time work than women which makes it harder to make appointments.

But he said there “are issues with how the health system works with men”, adding that women are regularly invited in for cancer screening.

“And that’s a good thing,” he said. “But it does mean that women use primary care more more than men.”

He added that some jobs are “unforgiving for taking time out of work” and “if somebody is working as a subcontractor on a building site, if they don’t work, they don’t get paid…

“There are actual consequences for taking time off work and we did some research on that to look at the different pressures and it varies quite a lot by industry.

“There are some industries where men find it harder to actually leave the workplace and where people are less tolerant of people taking time out for health and support.

“People in white-collar jobs generally find it easier to access healthcare and take time off work in order to access the GP.”

Mark Brooks, from the Men and Boys Coalition, told MPs there was a need for “man vans” to bring health systems close to men and make employers realise men needed time off work to attend appointments.

He said research had shown 61% of men felt that there were barriers to accessing GPs, with long waiting times the main reason, “but opening hours are not convenient due to work”.

He said the “health system, broadly speaking, especially primary care, is built around a nine-to-five work life.”

He added that “blue-collar men” are at risk because “most health policies are written by people in white-collar roles”.

“They’re not thinking about men on industrial estates, on construction sites, they’re not thinking about HGV drivers, men on zero-hour contracts, shift work,” he said.

Amy O’Connor, director of policy and advocacy at Movember, told MPs there were issues with men passing on their behaviours to their sons when it came to seeking help for health issues.

She said that “if we’ve got fathers who are showing those traditional masculine norms that, yes, it’s undoubtedly passing on to their sons”.

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