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

The architect of the government’s mental health race equality initiative has stepped down to push for an inquiry into the  experience of patients from ethnic minorities.

Lord Kamlesh Patel told Community Care he was in discussions with Department of Health ministers about “the way forward” after resigning his position as national director of the department’s black and minority ethnic mental health programme.

Patel, also chair of the Mental Health Act Commission, said he was keen to lead a national inquiry into why so many people  from ethnic minorities ended up in the mental health system and why their experience of care was so bad.

He also criticised the implementation of Delivering Race Equality (DRE), a five-year plan to tackle inequalities in the mental  health system that was overseen by the black and minority ethnic mental health programme.

Patel, who devised the plan, said he was proud of DRE but said it was unfortunate it was introduced last year during the NHS funding crisis.

He said that race equality and mental health tended to drop off the agenda when “the money runs out”. He also said DRE needed more robust central leadership with a “strong message” sent out to health chiefs that there would be “repercussions” if it were not delivered.

A DH spokesperson said it remained committed to DRE and much firmer performance management had been introduced to keep the scheme on track. She said an announcement on the future management of the programme would be made shortly.

Health minister Rosie Winterton said Patel had made “a huge contribution to our drive to improve mental health services for BME patients”.

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Full interview with Kamlesh Patel

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 Simeon Brody

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