Professor Fernando was informed last week by 10 Downing Street that he had been nominated for the honour for his services to black and minority ethnic healthcare.
Concerned with the deeply flawed nature of the 2006 Mental Health Bill, that includes plans to extend compulsory powers; in a public letter to PM Tony Blair, Professor Fernando has made public his plea to the Government to withdraw the Bill from parliament and get back to consultation mode.
In the letter he also sent to prime minister in waiting Gordon Brown, rejecting the Honour he writes: ”the very least the Government can do is amend the Act to include a set of principles (in line with Black Mental Health UK’s 10 Downing Street Petition) that will minimise the risk of injustice and protect the public in a real sense.’
‘Failure of mental health services to meet the needs of BME communities results from institutional racism and injustices are evidently mostly in the experiences of black Caribbean people who are disproportionately sectioned and subjected to inappropriate – often damaging – ‘care’, Fernando who is also an academic and former consultant psychiatrist, states in his letter.
Fernando’s public plea to the Government to halt oppressive proposals within the 2006 Mental Health Bill, currently in the House of Lords, has been welcomed by community and church leaders who are all to often tasked with picking up the pieces of the lives of patients who use the services.
‘The importance of legislation that protects people lives has taken precedence over accepting an OBE and that’s honourable in itself. If he has been offered this award for his excellent service in this area and he is saying that there needs to be improvement in the 2006 Mental Health Bill, the Government should now do the decent and only sensible thing and take on board what he is saying.’ Rev Paul Grey of New Testament Church of God said.
‘If they don’t value his expertise and his experience of working with black people and are ignoring his advice over the 2006 Bill, then, offer him an OBE you have to ask what it is about.
He is standing up for those who have suffered and died within the mental health system and we need to support him in this because this is a brave stance that will not come without consequences. We commend Suman for taking a principled stance.,’ Alicia Spence of ACCI (African Caribbean Community Initiative) said.
‘When an expert and leader in his field recognised by Government calls for a Bill in parliament to be withdrawn it would be a serious oversight not to heed this call. Fernando’s decision to publicly condemn the institutional racism within mental health services for the damage it has done to black people is something that should not be ignored,’ Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK said.