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Dr Arun Saini is a practising GP in Sandwell and is Primary Care Clinical Lead Executive for mental health for The Black Country Integrated Care Board which is responsible for managing the local NHS budget and developing a plan to ensure services are there to meet the health needs of local people.

Which part of the region do you live in and/or work in?

Work in Sandwell as a GP at Portway Family Practice in Oldbury.

Which organisation/sector/network are you representing on the MH Commission?

Representing The Black Country ICB.

How does your role relate to the mental health agenda?

I am the Primary Care Clinical Lead Executive for Mental Health for The Black Country ICB. I am the Clinical Director for Citrus Health PCN and sit on the Sandwell Health and Care Partnership. I am also a practising GP in Sandwell.

As the PCCLE for mental health I have supported and raised the profile of mental health to be on par with Physical Health with The Black Country ICB. I ensured that during the Covid Vaccination Programme accommodations were made for all vulnerable groups. Working with Sandwell Public Health and the voluntary sector we increased our vaccinations rates. The learning from this project was that all Partners, Health, Local Authority and Voluntary Sector must work together with our population to ensure best outcomes.

As a GP I see patients daily whose mental health has been affected by the pandemic and can see first-hand how the inequalities in this group of patients has increased during the pandemic. As a practice we actively try to manage mental health and physical health problems together, trying to reduce the stigma and barriers to health care.

What are your particular areas of passion and interest, which you aim to champion through the work of the Commission?

I strongly feel that patients with a dual diagnosis are particularly vulnerable as they are pushed from Mental Health services to Substance misuse services. Joined up working for this group would improve their outcomes.

I want persons in distress to safe places in accessible locations, not in hospitals or police stations. Early support can prevent much distress to the person and their carers.

I firmly believe that people, with their lived experience, and their communities, with their local support and understanding, are the key to any future solution. They must be the ones leading the redesigns of pathways.

What particular knowledge, skills and experience are you particularly seeking to ‘bring to the table’ to help to progress the work of the Commission?

My role as a GP has given me a deep knowledge into how Mental Health issues can affect people, and the impact on their and their families lives. I have seen where earlier intervention and community support may have led to a different outcome for my patient.

As a system leader I have seen the power of collaborative working in improving the care received by people and their carers. No one agency alone can deliver the changes required. I can use my experience and knowledge in building trust and respect between different organisations, resulting in a strong functioning team with better results.

Being from an Asian background, I am aware of the stigma and reluctance of communities to access mental health support and services. I believe in education and open honest discussion at venues where people are rather than a one size fits all.

I would bring the voluntary sector to the front in finding solutions and earlier interventions to prevent worsening of mental health and increasing the inequalities gap already present.

The graphic shows the head shot image of a man in black and white next to the WMCA logo