The national body for mental health professionals and service users from ethnic minorities has pulled out of government events designed to test the race equality impact of its proposed mental health legislation.
The National BME Mental Health Network says it has not been given enough time to make a meaningful contribution to the race equality impact assessment seminars organised by the Department of Health.
Members of the network are unhappy the events were organised without its knowledge, despite agreeing with the DH that it would be involved.
Network co-chair Marcel Vige said he found out about the events through a third party only nine days before the first seminar on 19 May in London. Vige, who is also development manager of the Diverse Minds project at Mind, said: “You can’t do anything in that time. From the network’s perspective, given the importance of this legislation, the seriousness and impact it’s likely to have, it really has to be done thoroughly.”
The network has demanded that the events be postponed and a date set jointly by itself and the DH if it is to have any further involvement.
The seminars are a major element of the race assessment, which also includes a questionnaire and advisory group.
The race equality assessment of the draft Mental Health Bill was subject to similar criticism.
A leaked report by a government advisory group questioned the tight timescale given to undertake the assessment, prompting suggestions it could be challenged by the Commission for Racial Equality.
A DH spokesperson said that the BME Mental Health Network had agreed to help support these events but due to a “temporary breakdown in communications over the timing of the events”, it had withdrawn its support.
She added: “We have apologised to the Network and are saddened that it has decided to withdraw their support for the events.”
Meanwhile, national director for mental health Louis Appleby told Community Care LIVE last week that the government had not yet decided whether to carry out the assessment on the whole amended act or just the amendments.