Editorial Comment: Time for Compulsion

It’s no secret that our mental health services are admitting disproportionate numbers of black and mixed race in-patients, and then providing many of them with substandard care.

Last year, a Mental Health Act Commission census revealed that black people were three times more likely to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals. And earlier this month, additional research by the commission showed that a third of black mental health service users felt they had faced discrimination.

This continues despite Delivering Race Equality, a five-year Department of Health programme to reduce inequalities in the mental health system. It’s struggling to gain support in tough financial times, and its national director – Lord Kamlesh Patel – has decided to step down and lobby for an official inquiry into the care of mental health patients from ethnic minorities.

Compulsion to make those responsible for the provision of services identify and address discriminatory outcomes looks increasingly necessary. Ethnic minority communities that continue to receive inappropriate treatment and care deserve tangible improvements – and strengthened performance indicators may be the only way to achieve this.

Related article
Kamlesh Patel quits Department of Health role to pursue call for inquiry
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