‘Delivering race equality’ is a 5-year action plan for tackling race inequalities in mental healthcare in England and Wales, based on the main themes of improved services, better community engagement and better information. The perception is that clinical teams have not been sufficiently engaged with the plan and progress is slow. This article shares insights from the author's work across government departments over the past 2 years and explores the potential for linking up different initiatives across the patient care pathway in support of the plan's delivery. A summary of conclusions from a pilot survey of consultant psychiatrists, commissioned by the Department of Health in June 2007, addresses the main controversial areas in the action plan, with suggestions for improvement. Areas for clinical engagement are identified that exploit new funding, investment and policy initiatives. Examples of good practice are offered.