Still No Progress: Mixed Sex Wards And Racial Inequalities, UK
Patient research released today by the Healthcare Commission has revealed that a shocking 68% of mental health inpatients are still being housed on mixed sex wards, showing no improvement on last year's figures (1). Women were even less likely to be given single-sex accommodation than men, with 78% being treated on a mixed-sex ward in comparison to 61% of men.
The count me in census (2), introduced as part of the Delivering Race Equality programme, also shows that people from BME groups are three or more times more likely to be detained than average, and up to 65% more likely to be secluded - locked in a room by themselves. Three years into the programme, there has been no sign of movement towards improving racial inequalities in mental health care.
Mind's Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
"Ending the plight of patients treated on mixed sex wards is just as urgent as ever, yet year after year, we seem to be no further on. The NHS is allowing some of our most vulnerable patients to be treated in some of its most hostile care environments, and people who are in most need of support are left living in fear. Patients need safety and security before we even start to look at recovery - it's crucial that the government commits themselves to getting this right.
"The research is now showing fixed patterns of racial inequality with no signs of improvement, suggesting that racial discrimination is an entrenched problem. Three years into the Delivering Race Equality programme, it's unacceptable that the government appears no closer to providing a fair and equal experience of mental health care to people of all races. Concerted action from government and health care professionals is needed to stop people from BME communities getting the raw end of the deal.
"While there have been some advancements in mental health services more broadly, the problem of mixed sex wards and racial discrimination are persisting and show no signs of improvement. It's vital the government move on these issues in order to deliver good mental health care."
(1) The third Count me in Census in 2007 also showed that 68% of inpatients were accommodated on mixed sex wards.
(2) The Count me in census 2008 is the Healthcare Commission's fourth census of mental health inpatients in England and Wales. It feeds into the government programme Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care.
Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.