Manchester part of UK’s first national pledge to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health care

The UK’s first national pledge calling on senior leaders in NHS mental health trusts, public bodies and commissioning to declare their commitment to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health care launches today (Wednesday 5th August 2020) with 30 inaugural signatories.

A ‘Statement of Intent’, the pledge is spearheaded by the Synergi Collaborative Centre in response to the lack of progress made over the past 30 years to tackle ethnic inequalities for those diagnosed with a severe mental illness, and the disproportionate risks Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities face in mental health services.

Against the backdrop of George Floyd’s killing, the Black Lives Matter anti-racist protests worldwide, and the systemic inequalities highlighted by Covid-19, CEOs, medical and nursing directors of NHS Mental Health Trusts, commissioners and public bodies (as pledge signatories) will take action to:

  1. Initiate fundamental service level changes to reduce ethnic inequalities in access, experience and outcomes.
  2. Measure, monitor and report the nature and extent of ethnic inequalities and progress made.
  3. Work in partnership with local BAME communities, service users and relevant community agencies.
  4. Provide national leadership on this critical issue.
  5. Ensure inclusive and sustainable change in our localities and communities.
  6. Support timely and progressive research and policy development.
  7. Contribute to a biannual progress update as part of this Statement of Intent.

James Nazroo, Co-Director, Synergi Collaborative Centre and Professor of Sociology, The University of Manchester: “Ethnic inequalities in the experience of mental health services for severe mental illness are stark, and they have continued for many years. So, it is great to see so many political and health and social care leaders sign up to this pledge, and the commitments within it. In Greater Manchester, we have seen real dedication to working in partnership across sectors and with VCSE organisations and local communities to identify and implement solutions to address these inequalities. The inequalities are deep and difficult to address, but the partnerships involved, and the leadership offered, gives us a real opportunity for success.”

Warren Heppolette, Executive Lead, Strategy and System Development, Greater Manchester Health &Social Care Partnership, said: “Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership wish to send out anunequivocal message, through this pledge, that we fully commit to supporting the elimination of ethnicinequalities in our mental health system. It is important that everyone understands the importance ofstriving to deliver ethnic equality and how they can personally support the pledge.”

Kamaldeep Bhui, Director, Synergi Collaborative Centre, and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford: “I’m delighted as Director of the Synergi Collaborative Centre to launch this powerful alliance between the NHS, local government, charity providers and BAME community groups in a national movement to transform mental health systems to be less institutionally racist, more enabling, thoughtful and inclusive; one that respects the workforce and acknowledges that all people need health care in the NHS. This is a moment in which the defensiveness and disguises for racism have fallen away. Yet this moment will pass, if we are not mindful, meaning that the usual practices will re-establish themselves to further compound and sustain racial disparities in health.”

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