Developing the Patients and carers race equality framework

I joined the Patients and Carers Race Equality Framework (PCREF) Steering Group and the Mental Health Equalities Taskforce in February 2020. My main motivation for joining was to share my experiences of seeking mental health services in the NHS. Reflecting on my experiences as a patient, I felt pleased that a platform existed for me to share my experiences, inform new policies and practices. As a non-British person who went through the difficult experience of adapting to life in Britain, I am passionate about highlighting the experiences of non-British ethnic minorities in the UK.

My duties so far have included critically evaluating mental health related policies and project plans, presenting on race and mental health in public engagement events and using my connections in the wider healthcare sector to strengthen the foundations of PCREF. I have had the opportunity to also work with external organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Men’s Health Forum to help shape their mental health related outreach work. My experiences as a patient representative increased my skillsets and enabled me to secure a full-time job in the NHS, working on health and staff inequalities.

I am hopeful that the PCREF will improve ethnic minority patients’ experiences of seeking mental health support in England. By increasing staff understanding of patients’ racial and cultural differences, the PCREF will enable respectful, personalised and dignified care in mental health services. Trusts will be encouraged to work more closely with ethnic minority patients, co-produce policies with them and also learn from them. I want the PCREF to create a healthcare environment which is safe. The PCREF should empower staff and patients to speak up about non-inclusion. It should enable staff and patients to impact an organisation’s strategy and leaders. Through rigorous use of qualitative and quantitative data, the PCREF must enable trusts to really walk in their patients’ shoes and treat every patient with the compassion everyone deserves.

Erk (pronounced Eric, pronouns: he/him/his) is a Turkish Cypriot who came to the UK to pursue higher education. He is an equality, diversity and inclusion practitioner by profession and his academic specialism is inclusive leadership. He is currently on a journey, exploring how impact can be made on others using creative media – blogs, podcasts, presentations, videos, art and more. He works as an expert by experience in NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Mental Health team, embracing, and encouraging others to embrace, vulnerability, equity, dignity in care, patient representation and systems improvement.