Wealth of choice, poverty of support? the Health White Paper
Last month ROTA signed up to the Afiya Trust’s response to Government’s consultation on the Health White Paper. The White Paper proposes one of the biggest reforms of the health service ever seen. The Afiya Trust’s response highlighted the potential impact of the Paper on race equality in health and the BAME sector.
As part of the White Paper, Government is now consulting on Patient Choice.
Proposals to increase the choices that patients and service users have about their care would allow:
patients to choose services from any willing provider
choice of provider for diagnosis
choice of which team, led by a named consultant, that they want to be seen by and what that treatment is after diagnosis
maternity choice to include pre-conception, antenatal, and postnatal care
choice of treatment and provider in mental health services
the choice of end of life care, moving towards a national choice offer to be improved in the future in order to support those who wish to die at home.
Through its consultation on information, the Government says it aims to arm patients with comprehensive information and data on all aspects of their health and adult social care so they can take control and make informed decisions. It will give patients more control of their care record.
ROTA recognises patients need the best possible information if they are to be able to have choice over their care. We welcome the current consultations. We are particularly keen to ensure that strategies are put in place to engage BAME communities that face health inequalities and have been traditionally excluded from shaping and accessing health services. BAME organisations and community groups are ideally placed to help those who need support to exercise meaningful choice. ROTA will continue to support the work of the Afiya Trust on the Health White Paper.
The deadline for the current consultations is 14 January 2011.
HIV prevention among black Africans in England: a complex challenge
A Better Health paper examines the HIV epidemic facing black Africans in England. It gives an overview of the current epidemic, and considers HIV support and prevention needs and recommendations for policy and practice. It can be read here.
Minister announces re-shaping of mental health strategy
In September, Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, announced work to re-shape government’s mental health strategy. In an article for Community Care magazine the Minister calls for a wholesale shift in emphasis to give mental health parity with physical health in the NHS.
ROTA welcomes the recognition given by the Minister in his speech of the need to join together strategy to link poor mental health and deprivation, unemployment, housing, children’s services, environmental planning and community empowerment. He also spoke of the essential role of charities and community groups in supporting those with mental health issues.
We are aware that Government will not be consulting on its new mental health strategy, but is conducting a limited Equality Impact Assessment of proposed changes which we will be feeding into. We will continue to raise the following points made in our response to the previous government’s consultation on its latest mental health strategy launched earlier this year:
There is a need to address the detrimental impact certain areas of government policy have on the mental health of BAME communities, in particular, criminal justice. In terms of mental health issues, BAME women fare even worse than BAME men and white British women in the criminal justice system.
The unique and vital role the BAME sector plays in addressing the mental health issues faced by many BAME people should be acknowledged.
The barriers those from many BAME communities face in accessing appropriate community-based mental health services needs to be addressed. These barriers mean that certain BAME people often follow more coercive and complex pathways to the mental health system, including higher rates of referral from the criminal justice system.
Government’s mental health strategy should take forward the work under ‘Delivering race equality in mental health care: An action plan’ from 2005 until 2010. Despite improvements made under this programme, BAME communities continue to face acute inequalities in mental health.
Paul Burstow’s article can be read here.
ROTA’s response to the previous government’s mental health strategy, ‘New Horizons: Towards a shared vision for mental health’ can be read here.
The Department of Health’s new webpages about the government’s approach to mental health can be read here.
ROTA’s latest magazine on mental health
In September we launched the latest edition of our quarterly magazine, Agenda, with a special focus on mental health. It gathers together a number of experts in the field to present their view of the mental health landscape as experienced by BAME communities. It also highlights the unique and vital role grassroots BAME organisations play in addressing such inequalities and presents a number of inspirational case studies. Agenda can be read here. Hard copies can be ordered by contacting Ryan Mahan.
Inquiry into mental health services
Mind is commissioning an independent inquiry to investigate the state of crisis in mental health services. This includes adult in-patient services, crisis resolution teams and crisis houses.
From service users to staff, advocates, carers, commissioners and researchers – the independent inquiry team wants to hear about your experience, knowledge and ideas. You can find out more and complete Mind’s Care in Crisis inquiry survey here.
ROTA supports Mind’s work, which has in the past included a focus on the specific mental health inequalities faced by BAME communities and encourages organisations with views and evidence to get involved.
The deadline for submitting evidence is 17 November 2010.
Delivering Race Equality in Mental Healthcare
A new report has been published by the National Institute for Mental Health England on the community engagement element of government’s Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care programme which ran from 2005 until 2008.
The report documents the project's outcomes for individuals, communities and mental health service development and includes commentaries from mental health experts.
Government strategy for the voluntary and community sector
On 14 October 2010, government launched a new strategy for the voluntary and community sector and a consultation on the strategy.
‘Building a Stronger Civil Society. A strategy for voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises’sets out ‘the scale and nature of the opportunities being made available to civil society organisations as part of the government’s wider reform agenda’.
An Office for Civil Society consultation on improving support for frontline civil society organisations’ seeks views about ‘how central government can best play a role to support building infrastructure in the voluntary and community sector. It aims to end top-down initiatives that filter spending through multiple layers, and help to make the support received more relevant, simpler to obtain and in keeping with the agenda for the Big Society’.
The consultation closes on 6 January 2011. Please note that, due to specific timing requirements for any new strategic partners programme, responses to Question 9 should be received by 25 November 2010 (Question 9 asks ‘How can central Government best work with national infrastructure to support and deliver the Big Society?’)
Following consultation, the Government will consider the feedback to the consultation. A summary will be published in 2011 with the overall Government response to the consultation.
The announcement can be read here.
The strategy document can be read here.
The consultation document can be read here.
Comprehensive Spending Review
On 20 October the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). This outlined the cuts to the central and local government budgets from now until the end of 2015. It represents a significant reduction of funding for services and will have significant affect on communities and the services upon which they rely.
Here we present our initial thoughts on the likely impact of cuts on BAME communities and organisations.
Communities and Local Government is the Government department responsible for the budgets of local government and the Minister for race equality.
The budget for local Government will take a cut of 27 percent over the next four years; that is a cut of nearly seven percent every year for the next four years. There will be greater discretion for local authorities on how they spend this money with only health and schools funding to be ring-fenced. Local authorities will now be able to spend other funding that had been ring-fenced as they wish. There is therefore a great need in the coming years for BAME communities to engage with their local authorities to ensure that race equality is prioritised.
The general budget for Communities and Local Government, which covers its non-local government spending, will be cut by 51 percent. We are concerned about the potential impact this will have on centrally driven initiatives for delivering race equality and community cohesion.
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) which is developing the legal framework for the Equality Act 2010 will also be significantly cut. The GEO will receive a 38 percent cut in funding over the next four years for its work and that of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Women’s National Commission. This will start with a 15 percent cut of £10 million next year.
The GEO has stated that it “will reduce its central staffing over the four year period, while taking on some of the functions currently managed by EHRC and the Women’s National Commission, delivering these for less total resource. GEO will also secure efficiencies by sharing services with EHRC and central suppliers, in accordance with Treasury initiatives’.
ROTA is concerned with that cuts to centrally funded race equality programmes and increased local authority discretion, will significantly reduce the level of funding available to organisations working on race equality.
ROTA will continue to monitor the impact of other cuts. We will observe how cuts to welfare and other departments will affect BAME communities.
Pledge your support for the BAME Sector
Voice4Change England is pleased to launch their newest publication ‘A Shared Vision for the Future of the BME Voluntary and Community Sector’. Following an in-depth study across the BAME sector, this publication identifies crucial areas of action for policy makers to strengthen and support the BAME Sector to target deprivation and challenge inequality.
A shared vision has been previewed at the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative 2010 party conferences, where V4CE hosted a series of events focusing on ‘Equality, fairness and the Big Society’.
Voice4Change England are now calling on the BAME and wider voluntary and community sector to join their campaign to raise awareness of the value of the BAME sector. You can find out more and pledge your support here.