Held at the Department of Health’s head offices in Whitehall, the meeting came on the back of ongoing dialogue that BMH UK has been having with the minister Norman Lamb MP’s office since he spoke at the ACCI & BMH UK National Conference on Policing Mental Health & Black Briton in 2013.
The issue of police presence on wards and the widespread distrust of the services, particularly in light of the high profile deaths of black men while in the care of this health provider within London’s African Caribbean communities were discussed as well as the work that has been done since these incidents in order to begin the process of restoring the community’s faith in these services.
The new chief executive of SLAM, Dr Matthew Patrick who was formerly chief executive of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation took up his post at the end of last year, and comes with and excellent reputation that is hoped will result in the kind of leadership decisions that result in transformative change for the better in the experience and treatment of black patients detained in this SLAM’s systems.
Minister Norman Lamb made it clear that he is keen to see an improvement in the patient experience of people who use mental health services during his time as minister responsible for mental health. Lamb’s brokering this meeting to hear what the major issues are for London’s black communities who need mental health care from BMH UK’s perspective is part of this work.
Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said: ‘We welcome Care Services Minister Norman Lamb MP brokering discussions with SLAM’s new chief executive Dr Matthew Patrick who is clearly very sensitive to the concerns of BMH UK and has made his clear his commitment to future engagement.
The work of SLAM is of particular importance for Black Mental Health UK, given that it is responsible for the delivering of mental healthcare to the parts of London that are home to the largest numbers of people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities living in England.
Discussions with SLAM and BMH UK will continue with the hope that the key issues around the inappropriate reliance on the police in dealing with vulnerable people detained on wards, and the need for community based, black led, culturally appropriate early intervention care will not only be put on the agenda of this health provider but resourced in a way that will improve this groups experience of mental health services and ensure that there are no more preventable deaths of people while in SLAM’s care.’