Mental health

Park House: Staff faced racism at mental health unit, review finds

Image caption,

A review was commissioned into concerns which had been raised at Park House

Staff working at a mental health unit have experienced “inequalities in the form of racism”, a review has found.

Park House at North Manchester General Hospital came under scrutiny after concerns were raised into its culture, treatment and discriminatory practices.

The review found racism was “present within cultural and social structures, systems and within our organisation”.

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said it was “truly sorry” and vowed to take action.

Park House, which comprises of eight adult inpatient wards, provides assessment and treatment of mental health needs including those detained under the Mental Health Act as well as voluntary patients.

The review found that ethnically-diverse staff felt they had experienced fewer opportunities in relation to career progression, resulting in a lack of representation in senior leadership roles.

They also felt unsafe due to racial abuse from patients, which was not dealt with effectively, leading to a loss of faith in the system.

Staff also said they had experienced disproportionate disciplinary action at higher rates compared to their white counterparts and were unable to raise concerns for fear of no action being taken or fear of retribution.

It also found ethnically-diverse workers generally felt excluded and unwelcome.

‘Not acceptable’

In a joint statement, the trust’s Chairman Bill McCarthy and Chief Executive Neil Thwaite said it was “clear from the evidence we have that our ethnically-diverse staff have experienced inequalities in the form of racism”.

“We recognise that racism is not only based on individual bias but is also present within cultural and social structures and systems and within institutions,” they said.

“Nurturing a culture of equity and inclusion for all is something that requires constant attention and vigilance.

“The fact that these inequalities are present in our organisation is unacceptable.”

They added: “We are therefore making a clear and unequivocal statement that we will not tolerate racism and discrimination in our organisation and a commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation.”

Fran Fenton, who chairs the Black Asian Minority Ethnic Staff Network, said while this review focused on Park House, “we know that people in other areas report the same experiences”.

“The anti-racism statement is powerful, but it is only a statement. Now we must move forward and make the change happen.”

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