12 October 2023

Reducing inequalities in access to services – Newham Specialist Psychotherapy Service

By Japneet Ahluwalia-Rao (Clinical Psychologist), Isaac Akunde (Clinical Psychologist) and Lucy Brewer (Improvement Advisor)

As a project team of clinicians and people with lived experience of caring and/or accessing services, we have been working on understanding how racial inequalities operates within access to the Newham Specialist Psychotherapy Service (SPS). Our service examined their caseload data against 2021 census data for Newham and found that despite Newham’s largest ethnic group being Asian or Asian British, at 45% of the population, their caseload was made up of just 27% of referrals from this ethnic group.  These findings (from data examined between 2021 to 2022) highlight that people from certain racial and ethnic groups are less likely to be referred to the service when compared to the demographic breakdown of the borough of Newham.

With this in mind, we have agreed to focus on the three largest South Asian communities in Newham: Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani community members, who are under-represented within the service. We intend to test change ideas to improve access for South Asian service users and offer culturally suitable psychological therapies.

Alongside a team of dedicated staff, we have representation from one service user and one carer who play an active part in our project.  We have recently agreed on focusing on our first change idea, which will involve building a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that answers key questions for the communities we’re focusing on and working with third sector partners to disseminate this across the communities and referrers. In collaboration with a local organisation called Subco Trust, we will be having direct conversations about the key questions that might facilitate safety and access for Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other South Asian communities within Newham. We are also working with another third sector organisation that works specifically with South Asian women to develop and test a referral pathway directly into Newham SPS.

See below driver diagram which outlines the factors we believe must be addressed in order to achieve our aim, and our change ideas we plan to test to address these factors.



Figure 1: A driver diagram to show the drivers and change ideas developed for the project’s aim to improve access to the service

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