Government addresses poor mental health services for black and ethnic minorities - at last

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Today's government action plan to end discrimination against black and minority ethnic users of mental health services is not before time, says The King's Fund.

According to The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson, the government has grasped the nettle 'later than we would have liked, but at least now something should be done'.

'Many of these issues have been known about for a long time and it is now six years since David Bennett died after being restrained at a medium secure unit in Norwich,' he said.

'It is a pity that no significant effort was made to address the many difficulties faced by those people from black and minority ethnic communities who have mental health problems. But this plan is a serious reaction to what is a serious problem. Too often the standards of service they receive are simply unacceptable.'

In particular, The King's Fund welcomed the emphasis on involving service users in training staff, and in engaging local communities and the voluntary sector.

'If this document is to deliver real change it will require a major effort from all concerned to turn good intentions into good practice on the ground', said Niall Dickson.

'So far progress in involving community organisations in planning services has been patchy and we are not convinced the resources promised in the plan will be enough to deliver lasting changes across the country.'

Notes to editors

1. For further information or interviews, please contact Beverley Cohen at the The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2632 or 07774 218439, or Michael Moruzzi on 020 7307 2585.

2. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.