Being Black in Britain still damages your health

Whenever you approach the statutory health services they say how well they are doing in working with the community to tackle seemingly intractable problems in health and wellbeing. The alarming figures for mental health are not going away and if you’re from the black and minority ethnic communities services are not meeting needs by a long way.
In response to this voluntary organisations have set up services. However with the demise of grant giving in favour of commissioning many are struggling and going to the wall. The Government has made enough noise about the need to target this section of the community setting up the Delivering Race Equality agenda. However the report below indicates little is changing.
Commissioning has mushroomed and a new breed of commissioners are legion. They seem typically complacent to justify the position they find themselves in. That is they are handling dwindling resources so their main function is to act as gatekeepers. This effectively ensures that not much can happen to make much difference.
A project was set up in BIrmingham and the West Midlands earlier in the year to address the problem that small organisations have in competing for commissions. Personnel from CSIP commended the proposals but commissioners have declined to meet us to discuss a way forward.

Census report 2008 confirms damage mental health services are having on Briton’s black communities
2 December 2008
The conclusions in the fourth national census of the ethnicity of all inpatients in the NHS and independent mental health and learning disability hospitals in England and Wales shows that the discrimination within the services continues unabated.
This latest report shows that detention rates for people from African and Caribbean communities continues to be higher than any other ethnic group and the likellihood of people from ethnic minorities being admitted to hospital has risen year on year since 2005.
The report raises questions over the Government’s commitment to address the discrimination within the mental health sector as three years into this five year programme this latest report shows that absolutely no improvements have been made.
Reducing detention and seclusion rates of black patients is a key aim of the Government’s Delivering Race Equality (DRE) programme. This census like the previous three also show that black people are more likely to be forcibly restrained and placed in seclusion.
Almost one third of inpatients 30% included in the 2007 census were also inpatients in the 2008 census. Even more disturbingly almost a fifth (19%) of patients surveyed were included in the 2006 census.
Black and mixed patients make up 10% of the overall inpatient population on mental health wards,and rates of admission are 10 times higher for black people than the national average showing no improvement in either pathways into care of service provision once in the system this report says.
Despite the £20 million pound investment of public money that has so far gone into the DRE programme this Census report exposes that discrimination within mental health services continues unabated.
‘The Delivering Race Equality programme was part of the Government’s response to the David Bennett Inquiry report. It is most disturbing to see that the injustices brought to light through the Inquiry report aren’t any closer to being addressed in the year which marks a decade since his death. I don’t think that it would be possible to see these kind of results in any other area of NHS without ministerial intervention to ensure that the situation improves. ‘ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘With all the resources going into this area of mental health care there is the expectation that services would respond to them appropriately to black service users. Instead since DRE began at least 10 black led services based in the heart of the community are struggling to finance their service or have been forced to shut their doors for lack of funding. It very very sad , ‘ Alicia Spence – services director at the African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) said.
‘There isn’t a crumb in this report that shows that things are getting better, if anything this latest census shows that things are getting worse. There has been absolutely no change against DRE key outcomes. The findings are grim and depressing and it raises significant question marks about the Delivering Race Equality programme,’ consultant psychiatrist and panel member on the David Bennett Inquiry, professor Sashi Sashidarand said.
‘These statistics shows that racial injustices in the mental health system are as bad as ever. The future may be even grimmer once the changes in the Mental Health Act implemented just weeks ago begin to bite in a year or two. Delivering Race Equality seems to be making no difference,’ consultant psychiatrist and academic professor Suman Fernando told Black Mental Health UK.
‘The money is not being directed to the services, that could provide the support for patients from black communities to recover. What we are seeing is quite the opposite really. This census shows that there are people from minority communities who have been on the wards for years are not seeing any of the resources needed to help them to recover. I don’t know of any schemes run by the DRE that are helping patients to get out of hospital,’ Jackie Mclean, manager of Omincare community mental health services in Birmingham said.
‘This is an injustice and after the Bennett inquiry and the findings which clearly stated that the racism in the services needs to addressed you would have thought that that would be enough of an incentive to ensure that a proper commitment to make for a change in this sector,’ pastor Desmond Hall, chair of Christians Together in Brent said.
‘It’s ridiculous that people who were in hospital in 2005 are still there in 2008 , there needs to be an accountability structure that will hold DRE to task. Without that I would not be surprised if we learn that this situation gets even worse next year,’ Rev Pedro Okoro, chair of African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance (ACEA) said.
‘The government has spent money on Community Development Workers, but it’s not translated locally. In the last four years no improvements have been made. One significant area where input is needed is in 24 hour independent advocacy. If this were available at the point of assessment it would bring change. Where someone from the community could speak on behalf of an individual before they were sectioned. Many people would not end up in the system at all. It would be a lot cheaper than keeping people locked up on secure wards. In my view they are putting the money in the wrong places,’ pastor Ade Omooba , Christian Concern for Our Nation.

One thought on “Being Black in Britain still damages your health

  1. Hanaa

    I have been a client of wotch for the past 7 years and i am so grafetul to them they have saved my life and provide an amazing service. My worker has been there every step of the way and has been my biggest supporter and has helped me to find myself and be off medication for 2 years and out of the hospital for 3, and i agree that the hospital system treats us like criminals when all we are looking for is understanding, thank you wotch from the bottom of my heart


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