Photo: David Bennett
Cut and pasted from The Telegraph online:
Institutional racism is rife throughout the mental health service of the NHS according to an independent inquiry into the "unnecessary and tragic" death of a black man restrained at a secure clinic in Norwich.
The inquiry said that institutional racism was "a festering abscess, a blot on the good name of the NHS". Black patients are wrongly perceived as being "aggressive to start with", and frequently put on higher doses of anti-psychotic drugs than Caucasians, the inquiry team said.
The situation is so serious that ethnic minority communities often "fear the NHS" rather than admire it.
Sir John Blofeld, a retired High Court judge, published his inquiry's report in February 2004.
Jamaican-born David "Rocky" Bennett, 38, of Peterborough, Cambs, was described as "full of life, with big dreams" before he became mentally ill at 20. He achieved five GSCEs, but left his job and developed emotional and behavioural problems which one doctor attributed to cannabis.
Family concerns about Mr Bennett's care were generally ignored and relatives said they were seen as "over emotional" or a nuisance. Mr Bennett died when he was restrained face down on the ground by at least three nurses at the clinic after attacking another patient who had racially abused him, and punching a female nurse.
Relatives believe Mr Bennett was on so much unauthorised medication when he died that the level of drugs in his system could have caused his heart to stop when he was restrained.
The inquiry team's conclusions echo the 1999 Macpherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which identified "institutional racism" in the police.
"Black and minority ethnic communities have a fear of the NHS: that if they engage with the mental health services they will be 'locked up for a very long time, if not for life, and treated with medication which may eventually kill them'," the team said.
Sir John acknowledged that the term "institutional racism" was controversial but said it had been accepted by a number of bodies including government departments and was "helpful to adopt in this case". It did not mean deliberate racism but unwitting prejudice and racist stereotyping.
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