rate that black and ethnic minority people are detained in psychiatric
hospital, vow ministers
by Adam James
today pledged to reduce the disproportionate rate that black and
ethnic minority people are detained in psychiatric hospital.
promise is unveiled in a government action plan, following an inquiry
into the death of black patient David 'Rocky' Bennett, 38, who died
in 1998 after being restrained by four nurses in the medium secure
Norvic Clinic in Norwich.
inquiry concluded institutional racism was present across NHS mental
health services and set out a raft of recommendations for improvements.
government's Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care action
plan sets out a body of reforms in the NHS over the next five years.
Its emphasis is on challenging racial discrimination in NHS mental
people represent 30% of patients in medium secure services and 16%
of high secure services. In addition, they are more than six times
likely than white patients to be detained under the Mental Health
Act. Women born in India and East Africa have a 40% higher suicide
rate than those born in England and Wales.
action plan states all NHS trusts will be assessed by the Mental
Health Act Commission on their performance in challenging discrimination
and providing equality of access.
commission already independently announced in May last year that
it plans to visit 35% more detained patients that has been done
addition, the plan states that £2million will be provided
for a 'national community engagement scheme' to help primary care
trusts identify black and minority ethnic voluntary and community
organisations that can advise them, and act as partners in delivering
mental health services.
trusts will be supported by 500 new community development workers.
campaigners broadly welcomed the government's five-year plan they
have expressed concern that it lacks detail.
Greatley, the chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental
Health, said: "The government has recognised that a comprehensive
plan of action is necessary to achieve race equality in mental health
services. It has rightly focused on creating better, more responsive
services as well as engaging communities and investing in the voluntary
we are concerned that much of action plan is strong in principle
but vague in detail. There are no clear targets to attain. It is
not specified how improvements are going to be measured or how NHS
trusts will be held accountable for achieving results.
important gaps need to be filled to make the plan the success we
all want it to be."
Minister Rosie Winterton said: "There are significant and unacceptable
inequalities in the access to mental health services that black
and minority ethnic patients have, in their experience of those
services, and in the outcome of those services.
of compulsory admission are significantly higher for black and minority
ethnic groups. Average lengths of stay in hospital are longer. Black
and minority ethnic patients are more likely than white people to
be prescribed drugs or ECT rather than psychotherapy or counselling.
All this fuels the "circle of fear" that can deter black
and ethnic minority patients from seeking early treatment for their
made some progress, but not enough. Now we have a clear and comprehensive
action plan for making sure that progress continues and accelerates."
Kamlesh Patel, director of the Department of Health's mental health
black and minority ethnic programme, said: "This action plan
has the potential to transform the care that black and ethnic minority
patients receive from mental health services in this country
know that we have the strong support of ministers and NHS top management."
government's five-year strategy also pledges:
to improve race equality training for mental health staff
for NHS Direct to set up an interpretation and translation service
and primary care trusts to provide directories of NHS and social
services targeted for black and ethnic minority people.
for the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) to reform the process
of independent inquiries and issue guidance on creating safer environments
on acute psychiatric wards
* The government's Delivering Race
Equality in Mental Health Care action plan (pdf)
3, 2004: All mental health staff to receive anti-racist training
- ministers accept recommendation of inquiry into the death of David
"Rocky" Bennett in 1999
24, 2004: Restraint training to go ahead for all mental health nurses
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