Action demanded over racist services

A new campaign group to put pressure on the Department of Health to
tackle racism in the wake of the David Bennett inquiry has been set
up by a leading psychiatrist.

The Campaign for Race Equality and Justice in Mental Health aims to
“challenge and correct ethnic inequalities and institutional racism
within mental health services”.

One of the campaign group’s founders is Dr Sashi Sashidharan,
author of the report Inside Outside into mental health
services for people from ethnic minorities and a member of the
inquiry panel into David Bennett’s death.

Bennett, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, died in October
1998 after being restrained by staff in the Norvic clinic, a medium
secure unit in Norwich. After hitting a nurse he was restrained
face down in a prone position for about 25 minutes. During the
struggle he collapsed.

Despite assurances from Anthony Sheehan, director of care services
at the Department of Health, that “all but two or three”
recommendations from the inquiry had been taken up by the
government, Dr Sashidharan believes it has yet to make a clear
announcement about its acceptance of the recommendations.

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