The exclusion of any reference to race in a new report on detained patients’ experience of mental health tribunals raises serious questions around the efficacy of this research human rights group Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) says.
The report entitled ‘Patients’ experiences of the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health)’, published today, details information from over 150 people that have appeared before a tribunal.
The joint report by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the first time details information taken directly from patients about their personal experiences of appearing before a Mental Health Tribunal.
There has been a massive increase of 5,000 more cases during 2009-10 taking the total number of appeals for this period to over 25,000. This increase comes at a time when NHS data shows that detention rates of black people has more than double over the past five years.
While this new report states that experiences of tribunals were diverse ranging from positive to strongly negative, BMH UK point out that there is no way of finding out which groups are faring worse by this system in the absence of an ethnic breakdown of patient experience.
BMH UK say the standards of service of Tribunal is of particular concern to the UK’s African Caribbean populations given that detention rates for this group are at the highest levels ever recorded. The campaigns group point out that without a detailed breakdown of ethnicity on patient experience of tribunals, establishing exactly who is benefitting from the services and who is not is virtually impossible.
‘There has been a significant omission in not referring to race given the disproportionate numbers of black people who are subject to Tribunal hearings, especially in light of data which shoes that detention rates for this group are at an all time historic high. It raises questions over the efficacy of this report and we would like to see this corrected,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘The main question here is why there is no information on differences in relation to ethnicity? It is important to ask the question of how black people are served by Tribunals because of the disproportionate number of people from these communities that will come before them,’ Professor Sashi Sashidarand consultant psychiatrists and panellist on the David Bennett Inquiry said.
‘Omitting race from this research compromises the credibility of this report as everyone knows that disproportionate numbers of black people are in this system. This document is lacking in rigour and if this report becomes policy it would need to be subject to an equality impact assessment, which would require them to report on the experience of detained patients who come from minority communities,’ Olu Alake Chair of 100 Black Men of London said.
‘In most instances Tribunal panels do not reflect the communities they serve, particularly in urban areas. We have found that there is no understanding of different cultures especially when it comes to risks assessments of African Caribbean patients. Decisions about a person’s liberty are often made based on the preconceived ideas of individual the panel members, but this, just like patient ethnicity, has not been picked up in this report,’ Rachel Barclay director of Two Way Street, community mental health service said