All 7 Lord Kamall contributions to the Health and Care Bill 2021-22

Tue 7th Dec 2021
Tue 11th Jan 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Lords Hansard - Part 1
Thu 13th Jan 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1
Thu 13th Jan 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2
Tue 18th Jan 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1
Tue 18th Jan 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2
Tue 18th Jan 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 3

Health and Care Bill

Lord Kamall Excerpts
2nd reading
Tuesday 7th December 2021

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Health and Care Bill 2021-22 - Government Bill Page Read Hansard Text
Moved by
Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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My Lords, over the pandemic the NHS has worked wonders. Throughout the greatest challenge that our health and care system has ever faced, the extraordinary dedication, care and skill of the people who work in our communities and hospitals have been unwavering, and I am sure that the whole House would want to put on record our thanks and admiration for staff across the health and care system.

The Government believe that part of that thanks must be in the form of giving the NHS the Bill that it wants, the Bill that it has asked for and the Bill that it needs to take better care of all of us. Some may say that this is the wrong time for this legislation. The Government and, more importantly, the NHS disagree. The Bill builds on the progress that the NHS made during the pandemic. Under crisis conditions, the NHS evolved, finding new reserves of incredible creativity, innovation and collaboration. It rolled out an extraordinarily successful vaccine programme, it drew on our collective strengths to deliver a programme reaching every corner of the United Kingdom and it has continued to deliver.

But the NHS has told us that the current legislation contains barriers to innovation that the Government feel duty-bound to remove. The NHS has asked for more flexibility to enable local leaders to try out new things—not as a free for all but in ways that best suit local needs and ensure that the system can evolve. The NHS has asked us to protect and nurture the innovation and hard-won lessons of the pandemic, as we begin to build back better.

Much of the Bill is not new: it builds on years of work on the ground to integrate care, on the work outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan and on years of experience, effort and learning, and of the system pushing the legislation to its limits to do what is best. It also builds on the Integration and Innovation White Paper that we published in February 2021, and on the many consultations that we have held on different aspects of the Bill. The NHS asked for legislation to make it fit for the future, and we are delivering. The Government believe that this is the right Bill at the right time, with wide support for the principles of embedding integration, cutting bureaucracy and boosting accountability.

I am sure that noble Lords will agree that one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS is the workforce. The Bill proposes a duty on the Secretary of State to report on the workforce “once every five years”. The Government are asking the NHS to develop a 15-year strategic framework for workforce planning, and we are looking to merge NHS England and Health Education England to deliver this. We are on track to deliver on our promise of 50,000 more nurses by March 2024.

The Government believe that this Bill will also help to deliver adult social care reform. In September, we announced plans to invest an additional £5.4 billion to begin a comprehensive programme of reform. Last week, we published our reform White Paper, People at the Heart of Care. This sets out our vision for adult social care and our priorities for investment, with measures including a new £300 million investment in housing and a £500 million investment in the workforce, to bring tangible benefits to people’s lives.

The Government recognise that their amendment to the adult social care charging system was considered controversial. However, it is necessary, fair and responsible. Everybody, no matter where they live in the country, no matter their level of starting wealth, will have the contribution they have to make to the cost of their care capped at £86,000. Those with lower levels of wealth will be far less likely to have to spend this amount, thanks to a far more generous means-testing regime that we will introduce. To be clear, the Government believe that nobody will be worse off in any circumstances than they are in the current system, and many people will be better off.

Furthermore, without this change, two people with the same level of wealth, contributing the same amount towards the cost of their care, could reach the cap at very different times. This is not considered fair. A fairer system is to have the same cap for everybody, and then provide additional means-tested support so that people with less are unlikely ever to spend that amount.

At its heart, this Bill is about integration. It builds on the lessons of the pandemic, when the NHS and local authorities came together as one system and not as individual organisations. New integrated care boards and integrated care partnerships will build on the progress made so far to plan, to join up services and to deliver integrated care. We are grateful for the work done to develop these clauses by both the NHS and the Local Government Association.

We have listened throughout the Bill’s passage in the Commons to concerns that we are enabling privatisation. Nothing could be further from the truth. To put this beyond doubt, we amended the Bill in the other place to make it clear that that no one may be appointed to an ICB who would undermine the independence of the NHS, either as a result of their interests in the private healthcare sector or otherwise.

Many noble Lords will be aware of the integration White Paper announced in September and currently in development. I can assure the House that this will build on the integration measures in the Bill, to go further and faster and to deliver person-centred care. We expect to publish it in early 2022.

As I have mentioned, a key aspect of this Bill is removing bureaucracy where it gets in the way. While bureaucracy often ensures that there are processes and procedures in place, we all know how excessive bureaucracy can make sensible decision-making harder. We believe that health and care staff are able to deliver better when they are trusted and given space to innovate, with barriers removed. Every NHS reform has claimed to reduce bureaucracy, with varied degrees of success, but such reforms have often been top-down. These reforms come not from the top down but from the bottom up, giving the NHS what it has asked for. This includes introducing a new, more flexible provider selection regime that balances transparency, reducing bureaucracy and fair and open decision-making.

It is right that the day-to-day decisions about how the NHS is run, both locally and nationally, are free from political interference. However, it is also right that there is democratic oversight and strong accountability in a national health system that receives £140 billion of taxpayers’ money every year. The public deserve to know how their local health system is being run. Integrated care boards will hold meetings publicly and transparently, and the Care Quality Commission will have a role in reviewing integrated care systems.

The Bill also ensures greater accountability from healthcare services to government, to Parliament and, ultimately, to the public. Through new powers of direction, the Government will be able to hold NHS England to account for its performance and take action to ensure that the public receive high-quality services and value for taxpayer money. Equally, we must ensure that there are safeguards and transparency mechanisms in place. That is why the Bill is clear that the new power of direction cannot be used to intervene in individual clinical decisions or appointments. The public also expect Ministers to ensure that the system conducts reconfiguration processes effectively and in the interests of the NHS and, where necessary, to intervene. In such instances, the Bill provides a mechanism for the Secretary of State to intervene, subject to the advice of the independent reconfiguration panel.

As we all know, the health challenges that we face are not static, so the NHS must continue to be dynamic. As the noble Lord, Lord Darzi, once said:

“To believe in the NHS is to believe in its reform”.—[Official Report, 11/10/11; col. 1492.]


The Government believe that this Bill allows the NHS to meet the challenges of today and adapt to those of tomorrow. With this Bill, we can look beyond treating disease and focus on prevention with measures to promote good health, such as tackling obesity and stopping the advertising of less healthy products to children. This Bill includes a range of important additional measures, including the establishment of the Health Services Safety Investigations Body, or HSSIB—a world-leading innovation in patient safety—and legislation to ban virginity testing to fulfil the Government’s commitment to the most vulnerable.

The Government believe that the founding principles of the NHS—taxpayer-funded healthcare available to all, cradle to grave and free at the point of delivery—remain as relevant now as they were in 1948. To protect these values, we must back those who make them a reality every day of their lives by building and constantly renewing a culture of co-operation and collaboration. I commend this Bill to the House.

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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My Lords, I put on record my thanks and gratitude for this excellent and wide-ranging debate. I hope noble Lords will understand that I may not be able to answer every point in the time available—unless they are prepared to stay here all night. I am grateful for the constructive and thoughtful contributions of noble Lords from all sides of the House. When I first entered this House, a noble friend who was a Minister here and in the other place said that, in the other place, you are probably one of the few experts on the Bill you are taking through, but in this place there will be at least one other expert. I disagree: there are many experts who will know far more about this than I do, but I look forward to learning from noble Lords across the House and listening to their expertise.

I echo those who praised the excellent maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens. He will be a valuable addition to the House. I caution against describing him as a treasure, because the problem with treasures is that people want to lock them away, put them behind a glass case, or bury them.

The noble Baroness, Lady Merron, asked how the Bill would be different from previous reorganisations. I make it clear that this is not a reorganisation that comes from my office or my right honourable friend the Secretary of State’s office in Victoria Street. Instead, the Bill builds on the evolution up and down the country over the last decade led by the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham, to deliver joined-up care.

This is the right Bill at the right time, as the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, said. I was extremely struck by the contributions of the noble Lords, Lord Kakkar, Lord Adebowale, Lord Stevens, and my noble friends Lady Harding and Lord Hunt of Wirral, in support of the principles underlined in the Bill. I am grateful for their support. As the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, said, the Bill is not a cure-all; no Act of Parliament could ever be. However, it can set the framework for people to find solutions that work; that approach has been the guiding light.

I will now address some of the issues raised across the House. As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, said, integrating services around people is the only sustainable way of delivering high-quality health and care systems and, more importantly, delivering improved outcomes for everyone. This has been a goal of health systems across the world, and it is at the heart of the provisions in this Bill, including putting new integrated care systems on a statutory footing. To meet that challenge, a key principle of the Bill is to ensure that the legislative framework is flexible and responsive to local population needs. It is right that local areas should be able to determine the arrangements that work best for them. Frimley is not Cumbria; we should not try to create a one-size-fits-all single model for both.

To protect this flexibility, I ask noble Lords to consider whether it is appropriate to add additional prescriptions on membership and duties for integrated care boards and integrated care partnerships, although we will, of course, be happy to consider suggestions for additional guidance and support for the system. In that spirit, I hope that I can reassure the noble Baronesses, Lady Tyler, Lady Walmsley, Lady Masham, and other noble Lords who raised this, that we are working with NHS England and the Department for Education on bespoke guidance in relation to children, including the vital issues of safeguarding, special educational needs and disabilities.

I thank my noble friend Lord Farmer for raising the role of family hubs, and for his sustained work in advocating for the family hub model. I assure him that this Government have committed to championing family hubs and we are working to roll them out. I also assure the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, and other noble Lords that we are fully committed to supporting carers, including consulting them in the development of services. I reassure the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay and Lady Meacher, and my noble friend Lady Hodgson that integrated care boards will be responsible for commissioning palliative care services as part of a comprehensive healthcare service.

This may be a convenient moment to consider the question of parity of esteem, as raised by a number of noble Lords, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Thornton and Lady Watkins, my noble friend Lady Morgan of Cotes, the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, and others. References to health in the Bill will already apply to mental, as well as physical, health. Likewise, I hope that I can reassure many noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Patel and Lord Desai, and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, that tackling inequalities is deeply embedded in the Bill. Given the backgrounds of both my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and myself, we believe very strongly in tackling inequalities. At the same time, I remind noble Lords of the establishment of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, with the focus on disparities and tackling inequalities. It is important that we give our support in tackling disparities right across our nation.

Integrated care partnerships will plan to address local needs, including the wider determinants of health, and the triple aim places new duties on NHS bodies to consider the health and well-being of the people of England when discharging all their functions. I listened carefully to the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Merron and Lady Pinnock, on the principle of subsidiarity—the role of place. We want to empower local leaders to support integrated and person-centred care at place level.

The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, my noble friend Lord Lansley, the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, and others raised the question of why we are putting forward a two-board approach. This approach recognises the importance of integration, both within the NHS and between the NHS and its wider partners. I reiterate that this was co-designed with both the NHS and the Local Government Association. I hope that I can reassure the noble Lords, Lord Howarth and Lord Crisp, that ICPs—integrated care partnerships—will have flexibility to draw members from a wide range of sources including organisations with a wider interest in local priorities, such as housing providers and education, as well as art and culture organisations.

The noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, asked why the Bill provides for CQC assessment of integrated care systems. It is important that members of the public can understand how well their health and care system is collaborating and that their local hospital is providing a safe, high-quality service.

My noble friend Lady Blackwood and other noble Lords raised the importance of research. I assure the House that we share the objective of wanting to see research embedded in the health and care system, not only to improve healthcare outcomes but to contribute to the goal of making the UK a hub for life sciences globally.

To address the contributions from the noble Baronesses, Lady Bakewell and Lady Chakrabarti, I assure the House that we have no intention of opening the door to privatisation. As the King’s Fund has said, there is nothing in the Bill that is likely to drive more NHS funding towards private companies—a sentiment echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale. I also remind noble Lords that successive Labour and Conservative Governments have seen the value of collaboration between the voluntary sector, the private sector, social enterprises —as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and the noble Lord, Lord Kerr—and the state.

On integrated care boards, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Carlisle and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, asked about transparency. Integrated care boards are covered by the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings) Act and will be bound by the principles of openness and proper public engagement.

I listened to my noble friend Lord Bethell with great interest. I agree that data sharing is essential to true integration. I know that many other noble Lords support this but they also, rightly, raised some concerns. The information provisions in this Bill are part of a wider range of commitments set out in the draft data strategy. We will ensure that the system has the ability and competence to share and use data appropriately and effectively to benefit individuals, populations and the health and social care system.

I listened carefully to the many contributions on social care from the noble Baronesses, Lady Thornton and Lady Campbell, and many others. Social care reform is a challenge ducked by generations. Successive Governments have commissioned reports on social care only to see them gather dust on bookshelves and never be enacted. This is the first attempt for many years to tackle a long-standing issue. Many noble Lords have spoken about it being ignored for 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. Anyone who has looked at the history of demographics and economic history will know that this challenge was coming a long time ago, yet successive Governments have kicked it down the road. We hope that this Bill, alongside the upcoming integration White Paper and the recently published social care White Paper, will go towards meeting that challenge. The social care White Paper sets out a 10-year reform vision that puts people at the centre of social care. It will ensure greater choice, control and support to lead an independent life with fair and accessible care.

We are backing that vision with investment. The Prime Minister has announced an additional £5.4 billion to begin a comprehensive programme of reform, including an extra £3.6 billion to reform the social care charging system, an extra £300 million of investment in housing, £150 million of additional funding to improve technology and increase digitalisation across social care, and £500 million of investment in the workforce. As technology improves, we hope that the nature of social care will change, enabling many more people to spend longer lives in their own homes with adaptations and better technology. Would it not be great if the United Kingdom were at the forefront of those technological developments?

I recognise the strength of feeling in relation to Clause 140, but I remind the House that it is absolutely essential that noble Lords look at the package of social care reforms as a whole. Our reforms will stop unpredictable and unlimited care costs, significantly increase the means test to help those with the least wealth and help people to plan for the future.

I hope that noble Lords will recognise that, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said in the other place, nobody will be worse off in any circumstances than they are in the current system and many people will be better off. The reforms mean that the Government will now support an extra 90,000 older care users at any given time. Comparisons have been made to previous proposals for reforms to the charging system. I remind noble Lords that many of these were not in fact acted on, partly due to concerns over unaffordable costs. Unlike previous proposals, our reform package is credible, deliverable and affordable.

There has rightly been much discussion of workforce planning for the NHS and adult social care. I have listened carefully to the contributions on this very important subject made by many noble Lords, including my noble friends Lady Harding and Lady Cumberlege, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Cavendish and Lady Thornton. Ensuring that we have the health and care workforce that this country needs is a priority for this Government, and the most recent figures show that there are record numbers of staff working in the NHS, including record numbers of doctors and nurses.

The Bill builds on this work. Clause 35 will bring greater clarity and accountability to this area. The department has also commissioned Health Education England to work with partners to develop a long-term 15-year strategic framework for the health and regulated social care workforce. For the first time, this will include regulated professionals in adult social care. That work will look at the key drivers of workforce supply and demand over the longer term and set out their impact on the future workforce. We anticipate publication in spring 2022. Supporting all this work is our recent announcement of our intention to formally merge Health Education England with NHS England. Such a merger will help to ensure that workforce is placed at the centre of NHS strategy.

I now turn to some of the wider issues raised during this excellent debate. I beg your Lordships’ indulgence, as time may not permit me to answer every point raised, and I commit to write to noble Lords whose points I do not address. I hope noble Lords will forgive me for the time I may take to write some of those letters.

On the power of direction for the Secretary of State, I am afraid I cannot agree with the characterisation suggested by some noble Lords. Instead, I would echo the former shadow Minister in the other place who said that

“the public think that the politicians they elect are accountable for the decisions taken in the interests of their health”.—[Official Report, Commons, Health and Care Bill Committee, 21/9/21; col. 393.]

We agree. I would also like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, that Ministers have no intention of requiring hospitals to report on the movement of a broom cupboard. I am afraid that is a mischaracterisation, albeit a witty one, of how Ministers intend to use their power.

We anticipate that Ministers will be involved only where decisions become particularly complex or a significant cause of public concern, or if they cannot be resolved at a local level. Local NHS commissioners will continue to be accountable to NHS England and for developing, consulting on and delivering service change proposals. However, we believe that strengthening democratic oversight will make it more likely that the right decisions will be taken. Any decisions will be based on the evidence and consultations that have taken place, and where the Secretary of State chooses to intervene they will, rightly, be accountable to Parliament and the public.

I welcome support for the establishment of the Health Service Safety Investigations Body and agree with the noble Baronesses, Lady Merron and Lady Walmsley, and others that it is essential that the HSSIB is an independent body and a safe space. This is what the Bill delivers. It was always difficult to achieve the right balance between openness and getting people to come forward so that we can make sure that we improve and learn lessons.

As raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, the Bill contains a number of delegated powers. Many of these are not new but simply reflect the replacement of clinical commissioning groups with the new integrated care boards. Far from a power grab by the Secretary of State, many of these powers will be exercised by the NHS.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Pinnock and Lady Jones, and my noble friend Lord Reay raised the question of fluoridation. I gently remind noble Lords that although tooth decay can be prevented or minimised by adherence to a healthy diet, water fluoridation is seen to be the only intervention to improve dental health that does not require sustained behavioural change over many years. It also disproportionately benefits poorer or more disadvantaged groups.

As many noble Lords have commented, prevention is in many ways better than cure. That is why we are so concerned about childhood obesity, a concern shared by noble Lords across this House. It is one of the biggest health problems this nation faces, and I am grateful to many noble Lords for the support that related measures have received today. We want to be quite clear that, as these measures are taken forward by local integrated boards and commissioners, we must rely on evidence, learn lessons and, when something does not work, try something else. We have to use the power of discovery to make sure that we are finally able to put obesity to bed or to reduce it on a significant scale.

I was also grateful for the intervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, in relation to reciprocal healthcare agreements. I hope I can assure her that such arrangements will be entered into only when they are in the best interests of the people of the UK and the NHS. The NHS is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector, whether overseas or domestic.

I thank my noble friend Lady Cumberlege for her remarks and for her tireless work in championing patients, ensuring that the voices of patients and their families were heard in her First Do No Harm report. My noble friend continues to be a voice in the House for patients in general, and for the women and their families who have been so terribly affected by matters covered in her review. She continues to champion their cause and their calls for redress. We are committed to making rapid progress in all areas set out in our response, and we aim to publish an implementation report in the summer of 2022.

Finally, I welcome those, including my noble friend Lady Hodgson, who raised the issue of hymenoplasty. The Government agree that this is a repressive and repulsive procedure. We have convened an independent expert panel to make a recommendation on whether it should be banned. That recommendation will be published before Christmas.

This Bill is the product of extensive engagement with stakeholders across the health and care system, including partners in local government as well as the NHS. It will provide a platform that empowers local leaders across health and care to build back better and to continue to deliver a world-class service, fit for the 21st century and beyond. I urge noble Lords across the House to trust the judgment of our health and care staff as much as we value their commitment and their care. I know that noble Lords will work together to make this Bill better during the coming weeks and I commend the Bill to the House.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Kamall Excerpts
Committee stage & Lords Hansard - Part 1
Tuesday 11th January 2022

(1 week, 6 days ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Health and Care Bill 2021-22 - Government Bill Page Read Hansard Text
Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, in the absence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, I take it upon myself to echo the trenchant observations of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. What do the Government think Parliament is? What do they think it is for? Again and again, we have these Bills—skeleton Bills, Christmas tree Bills, call them what you like, but one thing is abundantly plain: Henry VIII is sitting firmly on his throne issuing his diktats.

This is no way for a democratic Government to treat Parliament, especially the elected House. However, if the elected House will not fully protect itself, we have a duty to speak up for it. There are many who, because of the circumstance of their election recently in Parliament, perhaps feel a bit diffident, but we have a duty not to be diffident. We in this House have a duty to say, “This is no way to treat Parliament”, because we are in effect creating executive departments with dictatorial powers. That is inimical to a parliamentary democracy. It is plain wrong. I do not know how often I shall intervene in the debate on this Bill, but what I do know is that I do not like what I see.

I have enormous and genuine respect for my noble friend the Minister. He has already, very rightly, earned himself a reputation in this House as somebody who is anxious to learn about parliamentary customs and practices, and to listen and reflect. I beg him, as I look at him now, to please talk to his colleagues in the other place who have greater power within the department and say to them that there is real concern in this House—I am delighted to see my noble friend Lady Cumberlege nodding at this point—which has within it many medical experts, such as my noble friend Lord Ribeiro, the noble Lord, Lord Winston, who does not seem to be here this afternoon, my noble friend Lord Kakkar and many others who know about medicine and how things should be organised and who do not see it as their prime purpose to help a Secretary of State hang his baubles on the Christmas tree.

We have a chance—we have done it before in other Bills—to try to improve on this skeleton, this Christmas tree, and to put Henry VIII back in his box, which is where he should be put. I hope that as this Bill goes through your Lordships’ House it will be probed, scrutinised and improved.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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I start by thanking the noble Baroness, and indeed all noble Lords who have spoken thus far. I will make a general point in response to my noble friend Lord Cormack. I recognise that I am relatively new to this House and that I have much to learn. I hope to learn much, not only from noble Lords who have more experience of the procedures of this House and of holding the Government to account but from many noble Lords from across the House with medical expertise and management expertise in the health and social care sector.

I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, for bringing this debate before the Committee. Amendment 1 would mean that we could not commence the change of legal name from the National Commissioning Board to NHS England until after an impact assessment for each of the clauses in Part 1 of the Bill is published, while Amendment 315 would mean that we could not commence Part 1 until after the publication of an impact assessment for each clause’s impact on the risks, costs and benefits to patients.

I hope I can reassure the noble Baroness that my department has published the impact assessments. She acknowledged this and I accept that they were not published in the most timely way. I will endeavour to do my best to make sure that we publish these assessments with as much notice as possible. They are available for noble Lords to review on GOV.UK. I am very happy for the noble Baroness to take credit for the first impact assessment. We will endeavour to do better. We will also commit to publishing further impact assessments for secondary legislation made under the powers contained in the Bill, where those regulations will have significant impact on the health and care system or private businesses, to provide transparency and clarity to the system.

The amendment would also delay the commencement of Part 1 until at least six months after commencement regulations were laid before your Lordships’ House. This would delay the implementation of the key provisions contained in Part 1.

The NHS put forward its recommendations for legislation in 2019. It is preparing, subject to parliamentary passage, to implement the ICB provisions of the Bill from July 2022. We know that ICBs in effect exist in many areas, in whatever form of development, and it is essential that we put these on a statutory footing as soon as possible. The development of ICBs builds on years of development work in local systems to improve partnership working. Delaying the implementation risks a loss of momentum in establishing statutory integrated care boards and the benefits that they are intended to deliver. For these reasons, I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Thornton Portrait Baroness Thornton (Lab)
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I thank the Minister for that very gracious answer and start to our deliberations. I also thank in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and the noble Lord, Lord Cormack. I really was rather hoping that the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, would come in, as this is absolutely what he knows about. He is quite right. I hope that noble Lords who are experts in this will look carefully at the Bill and at the two reports I referred to, because they will need to guide us in our deliberations over the next few weeks.

Let us see what the impact assessment says—whether it works or not—and see whether we need to review certain parts of the Bill with a view to looking at the Constitution Committee’s report, for example, which also was published only yesterday. With that, and with the warning that this is the beginning and not the end of the discussion, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Merron Portrait Baroness Merron (Lab)
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My Lords, I feel that today’s debate on this important group of amendments should carry much weight because, at its core, this is about treating people as whole people and seeing them as physical, mental and social beings. Our welfare on each of those fronts is absolutely key to the others. It is not possible simply to treat one without regard to the others, and it is crucial that we enhance people’s well-being across our whole complexity as human beings.

I am glad to speak to this group of amendments because, as we have heard across all sides of the Committee throughout today’s debate, the reality is that, despite the best efforts encapsulated in the mandate, and many times in policy, we find that competing priorities, an avalanche of guidance and instructions, and events—the pandemic has been referred to several times, of course—mean that mental health services can be, and indeed have been, relatively left behind. As the Centre for Mental Health reports:

“Mental health problems account for 28% of the burden of disease but only 13% of NHS spending.”


In the debate today we have also asked ourselves: where is the accountability? For example, we know that in many clinical commissioning groups the actual spend on mental health was below what it was supposed to be, yet there have been no consequences. We need to address not just the finances but the mechanisms around it and the impact on individuals.

The founding National Health Service Act 1946 rightly spoke of a comprehensive health service that secured the improvement of both physical and mental health, and subsequent Acts, quite rightly, have confirmed this. In operational terms, the Government require NHS England to work for parity of esteem for mental and physical health through this NHS mandate, but we know, and have heard again today, that this requirement falls down when we go to a local level.

One way or another, we will all be familiar with a whole range of stories of people who have not been able to access treatment in a timely manner or who find that they are pushed around a system with very little effect and discharged from care before it is appropriate, with consequences that are all too clear to see. It is difficult to overestimate just how challenging this is, not just for the individuals but for local commissioners, because they face competing pressures in trying to deal with this.

As has been emphasised, this group of amendments is about not just getting on the road to financial parity, important though that is, but changing the culture and the whole means of monitoring and implementation, so that disparities can be addressed—indeed, if possible, so that difficulties can be headed off at the pass. It is a well-worn phrase, but it sometimes seems that mental health is a Cinderella service—the one that can be cut first, to the benefit of the more visible services. Some of the recent statistics show that one in four mental health beds has been cut in the last decade, while just last year 37% of children referred by a professional to mental health services were turned away. That is a shocking statistic that we need to move away from.

I thank noble Lords for promoting these amendments and for their contributions illustrating what they mean and the reason we need them today. The noble Lords, Lord Stevens and Lord Patel, made timely points about the impact of the pandemic. If this is not a moment for focusing more on mental health, I do not know what is. The challenge we have and the difficulty presented by the pandemic is that while there is a focus on cutting waits for operations—and we know that is important—this could be a reason for mental health services to get somewhat lost, when in fact the pandemic reminds us of the importance of mental health and the need for the NHS to meet the needs that there now are.

The amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, encourages and directs the actions necessary for transparency on expenditure. I recall that they were referred to in the debate as legislative levers, and that is indeed what they can be. For me, they encourage not just accountability and transparency but actual action and change—the change we need to see.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, referred to parity of esteem having to be applied locally, not just at a higher level. That is the only way we will see a difference in mental health services and improve the mental health of people in this country.

The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, made reference to the fact that legislation is trying to catch up with where we are as a society, and the noble Lord, Lord Warner, referring back to the meeting he attended, said that the public are well ahead of the game. I believe that is true. Indeed, as the noble Baroness, Lady Watkins, said, we have to prepare for tomorrow. It is not satisfactory that we stay stuck in today, or indeed in the past.

In my view, these amendments move us on. They bring mental health services into real parity with physical health services, but they also connect mental and physical together. I hope they will find favour from the Minister.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I begin by thanking all your Lordships for the wide-ranging debate. I want to say how much more I learn, listening to the contributions in each of these debates, before I stand up to speak. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions. As the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, says, this debate carries some weight for our understanding that social, mental and physical well-being are equally important. We should not seek to suggest that one takes precedence over another. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, for kicking off this debate with his encouraging and not critical amendments; I take them in that spirit.

Following on from that, and before I go to some of the specific amendments, I will just reflect on some of the contributions made thus far. I first thank the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, for raising social prescribing. I know we have discussed this a number of times since I became the Minister, with particular contributions from the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, on the importance of art and music in helping to unlock the mind and touch the soul.

As has been made clear, social prescribing is a key component of the NHS’s universal personalised care, and I know that, crucially, this can work well for those who are socially isolated or whose well-being is impacted by non-medical issues. The NHS has mechanisms to ensure that social prescribing is embedded across England: for example, the primary care network directed at enhanced services specification outlines that all PCNs must provide access to a social prescribing service.

I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Patel, for raising the importance of the mental health of children and for making sure that we do not forget, even within mental health, that many sections of our society can quite easily be forgotten.

I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London: we have come a long way. I remember as a child in the 1970s going to visit my uncle who was a psychiatric nurse at Claybury Hospital and looking at the patients, with the innocence of a child, and thinking, “These people don’t look ill to me.” We have come far since then. I remember the Rampton hospital scandal in the late 1970s, where the patients were treated appallingly, almost not as humans, and with a lack of dignity. The fact that today we are discussing the parity of mental with physical health shows how far we have come as a society.

We also spoke about loneliness and isolation. The noble Baroness, Lady Watkins, and I have had conversations about loneliness and some of the civil society projects that, for example, bring together lonely older people with children from broken homes so that both can benefit and learn from each other. I remember a story that I have mentioned in the past: in one of the projects I visited, a rather old man said, “I lost my wife five years ago and I had almost given up on life. The fact that I am now working with children from broken families and am almost being a mentor to them gives me a purpose to live—a reason to get up in the morning. I have no longer given up on life.” There are so many of these civil society projects, and no matter how we legislate, sometimes those local projects get to the nub of the problem in their local communities.

I have to pay attention when not only two former NHS chief executive officers but the former Chief Nursing Officer speak in the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, talked about the focus on outcomes, not inputs and how it is important to make sure that we are not gaming the system, mentioning mental illness and mental health but not doing anything effective about it.

Autism was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Warner, a former Health Minister. We are fully committed to improving access to and provision of health and care services for autistic people and people with a learning disability. I know that we have had at least one debate on the treatment of patients with autism and sometimes the terrible conditions they experience. That just shows how important this is.

I am trying to say that in many ways that the Government are absolutely committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and well-being and to ensuring that the right support is in place for all who need it. I therefore welcome the amendments which look to ensure parity of esteem across physical and mental health. I assure noble Lords that we support the sentiments behind these amendments and take mental health seriously.

Indeed, one of the considerations in weighing up the many arguments for further measures in response to Covid—from those who were asking for lockdown, for example—is that we also had to recognise that there was a mental health impact to lockdown. As a Government, we had to look not only at the societal and economic impacts but the mental health impacts within health considerations.

On the amendments, I will first address those tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins—I add my voice to those of the many noble Lords who have paid tribute to her work over many years in promoting this issue and ensuring that we take it seriously. I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for making sure that we are informed about this. These amendments would explicitly reference both mental and physical health and illness in certain provisions of the Bill. I understand that the intention is to ensure that due attention is given to both “mental and physical health” and “mental and physical illness”. Indeed, you cannot separate mental and physical illness, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, said. We have moved way beyond “Pull yourself together, man” or a stiff upper lip attitude. We see how mental health plays a role, for example, in terrorism, with those who are recruited to be terrorists, or in those with eating disorders, or the number of people in prison who suffer from mental health issues. It is important that we fully recognise that.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Kamall Excerpts
Lords Hansard - Part 1
Thursday 13th January 2022

(1 week, 4 days ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Walmsley Portrait Baroness Walmsley (LD)
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My Lords, I shall speak more briefly than I had intended, because this has been a very long debate, absolutely full of expertise, about a suite of amendments all of which have considerable merit. I know that both Ministers on the Front Bench have been listening very carefully and have noted the consensus across the Committee that this Bill will not succeed unless it addresses very clearly the disgraceful health inequalities in this country at the moment.

Health inequality affects quality of life, life expectancy and, in particular, healthy life expectancy, which has now stalled across certain demographic groups. As we have heard, it has been analysed brilliantly by Professor Sir Michael Marmot. It affects the well-being of the patient and their family. The really sad thing is that much of it is preventable. These things are particularly rife in the poorer parts of the country, because that is where the social determinants of health such as housing, referred to by my noble friend Lord Shipley and others, have most effect. We have heard a number of statistics about health inequalities, but I shall give your Lordships just one. People living in the most deprived areas of the UK spend almost a third of their lives in poor health, compared to only about a sixth of those living in the least deprived areas. That says it all.

Unfortunately, inequalities were not at the forefront of the Government’s response to the pandemic. They suspended equality impact assessments for legislation, resisted publication of evidence of the impact of the virus on BAME individuals—as pointed out to them eloquently by the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence—and failed to provide adequate isolation support for those on low incomes, forcing them to go to work. The Covid pandemic has therefore seen the biggest shift in life expectancy in the UK since World War 2: a fall of 1.2 years in males and 0.9 years in females. It is therefore essential to heed Sir Michael Marmot’s words and “build back fairer” and not just “better”.

The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, kindly mentioned the report of the Science and Technology Committee on healthy ageing. I was a member of that committee under the capable chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Patel. It became very clear from our witnesses that unhealthy ageing happens years before the person is old and depends enormously on their demographic and their lifestyle. For their sake and for the sake of the future of the NHS, for which no Government will ever be able to provide enough funding unless something is done on prevention, we must do something to level up the health outcomes of the nation. This Bill is a very good place to start all over again on that agenda.

I have added my name to Amendment 11, so ably introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, whom I must congratulate on the way she analysed these issues at the beginning of this debate. I thank her for that. Also crucial is Amendment 14, so ably promoted by the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and my noble friend Lady Tyler. Amendment 11 is an attempt to ensure that NHS England produces guidance about the collection, analysis, reporting and publication of the data which makes transparent the performance of various NHS bodies on health inequalities. Without collecting that, we cannot judge the performance of those organisations. If it is not done consistently, we cannot assess an organisation’s performance in comparison to other similar bodies. That is why such guidance must come from the top. I know that the Government want each ICS to do its own thing in a way which it considers most appropriate for its area. However, for the important objective of levelling up health outcomes across the population, judgment of performance can be made only if the data is comparable between one ICS and another or one trust and another, so we cannot leave it to them to collect the data in any way they like.

Of course, there are big issues about the resources available for the collection and analysis of data, but such information is essential if improvements are to be made. Therefore, a duty to “have regard” to guidance published by NHSE would put pressure on the organisations to so arrange their finances as to ensure adequate resources for this, and, of course, it would be cost-effective.

I also have Amendments 61 and 63 in this group. They would insert “assess and” into new Section 14Z35 inserted by Clause 20, which covers the duty of an integrated care board to reduce inequalities in access to health services across its population and in the health outcomes achieved. Although it is well known that, in general, the lower the demographic the greater the health inequalities, this is by no means uniform, even across a single local authority, let alone across a large ICS area. Indeed, even within a single local government ward, which may be fairly affluent in general, there are often pockets of deprivation. Every local councillor knows where they are. In order to devise policies and deploy services geographically in a way that improves access and outcomes for those deprived communities, the ICS needs to drill down and do the detailed work to identify where they are and what factors are damaging health. It may be poor or overcrowded housing. It may be lack of access to shops selling healthy food. It may be lack of access to leisure and sports facilities in which to take exercise. It may be poorly performing schools or overstretched primary care services. It may simply be poverty, preventing people heating their homes adequately or buying nutritious food. In rural areas, it may be lack of access to pretty well everything, as the right reverend Prelate reminded us. Whatever it is, you cannot fix it until you know what and where it is.

That is one of the reasons why we reject the new power of the Secretary of State to meddle in the reconfiguration of health services locally, but that is a debate for another time. In cases such as this, an overview will not do, and local knowledge is key. That is why we believe it is essential to mandate an ICB to do the detailed research on which to base its commissioning decisions, so that it can fulfil the duty to reduce health inequality put on it by this Bill—once it has been amended by a lot of these amendments.

None Portrait Noble Lords
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Hear, hear.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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You have not heard what I am going to say yet.

I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate; it has been fascinating. It has touched on a number of things that I feel strongly about personally. Before we go further, and given my background and that of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, I want to assure noble Lords that we both feel very strongly about inequalities. I say that as someone who grew up in a working-class immigrant community. I was born at Whittington Hospital; I also accessed North Middlesex hospital and Chase Farm Hospital, with which I know the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, is associated, though I am not sure I will get any more points for that, to be honest.

One thing I feel strongly about, and saw in many areas when I was an MEP for London, is where the state has failed, whichever Government was in power. I have worked with non-state, local community, bottom-up projects which understood the issues in their communities far better than any national or local politician—there was sometimes even a distance between them and their local ward councillor, as the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and I were discussing the other day.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, not only for the thoughtful way in which she opened the debate and introduced the amendments but for pointing out some of the people who are often forgotten; for example, the homeless. I have worked with a number of local community homeless projects, such as the Hope Foundation in Acton and Vision Care for Homeless People. Perhaps I may also do a quick advert for the Take One, Leave One project, which is based outside Vauxhall station on Fridays, between 12 pm and 3 pm —people can leave excess clothes and homeless people can pick them up. I urge any noble Lords passing through Vauxhall station on a Friday to support this.

Sex workers, the Traveller community and drug users have been mentioned. Sometimes we think that these issues are remote from us and will not affect us—but everyone is only one of two steps away from homelessness. A broken family, mental health issues, your friends saying, after a while, “Actually, you can’t stay on my sofa any more”—where do you go? When I have met homeless people, they have quite often come from a very different place, not the stereotype that we often hear. They have come from quite a stable family, a good relationship, a good job: but two or three things have gone wrong in their life and suddenly they are homeless. It happens to many people who resort to such desperate measures.

Another thing I am slightly concerned about, if I am honest, is that when I was a young child growing up in immigrant communities, there was a distrust of authority. We see the difficulty, for example with the vaccine schemes, in trying to reach some of those communities. It was not only authority that we were quite suspicious of and concerned about but—I hope noble Lords will forgive me for using this phrase—white, middle-class do-gooders who thought they knew best what was best for us as working-class immigrant people and could tell us what was best for us, rather than listening to us and our real concerns. Quite often we felt that they had captured the agenda, and that was why the money and resources which were supposed to be helping us did not reach the people who needed help: it got captured by the white, middle-class do-gooders.

I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Greengross and Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, for the emphasis on the arts and creative industries. Sometimes, music and the arts are a way of overcoming this distrust, learning about the culture of those communities and also aligning the culture and the issues with some of the very real problems and tensions we face. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, talked about prevention being better than cure. It is an issue we talk about constantly in the department, and the NHS also talks about it. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, as an economist, will acknowledge that economics is often simply about the allocation of scarce resources and finding the most efficient way of achieving that.

My late father once told me, “Never forget where you came from and what you were”, and this is one of the reasons I feel very strongly, as do many noble Lords across the Committee, about the issue of inequalities. How do we tackle this, what is the best way to do it? Will putting it in the Bill solve all the problems? Actually, it will not, but we can discuss how we can make it more effective, and not just feel, “Great, we’ve got it in the Bill, job done”. It has to be more than that. As the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, said, it cannot just be an institutionalised Gladys; it has to be more than that. So, I am deeply grateful that we gave this issue the time it deserves. It is really important for me personally. We want to tackle health inequalities and ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy a long and healthy life, whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their background or social circumstances.

I hope I can assure the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, with whom I have had a number of conversations about music and dementia. I have volunteered, perhaps rather rashly, to organise a fundraiser with my band and other bands for that. I hope that does not give me an excuse to lay the YouTube link to my band in the Library: I shall try to avoid that temptation.

However, to deliver on the commitment on 1 October, we launched the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities within the Department of Health and Social Care—the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, anticipated that I would say this—and we also set up a cross-government ministerial group to identify and tackle the wider determinants of poor health and health disparities. It is important that this cannot be top-down; we have to go to some of the social enterprises and local communities, but also we must not prejudge, prevent or duplicate the work of the integrated care systems in this. NHS England is already tackling health disparities through the NHS long-term plan. That sets out a clear intention to set measurable goals and to make differential allocations targeted at reducing health inequalities and disparities. This has resulted in funding increases to some of the most deprived parts of the country.

As we know, making sure that these deprived areas get the most funding does not mean it will trickle down to those who really need it; it could well be captured by some of the do-gooders I mentioned earlier. The noble Lord, Lord Howarth, talked about those targeted interventions. NHS England and NHS Improvement is also taking forward the Core20PLUS5 initiative as an approach to addressing health inequalities. This will focus on improving outcomes in the poorest 20% of the population, along with inclusion health groups and five priority clinical focus areas.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Kamall Excerpts
Lords Hansard - Part 2
Thursday 13th January 2022

(1 week, 4 days ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Wheeler Portrait Baroness Wheeler (Lab)
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My Lords, I congratulate the four noble Lords who have produced this excellent suite of amendments across the Bill to ensure that ICBs procuring or commissioning goods and services on behalf of the NHS are firmly focused on their responsibility for NHS England’s commitment to reaching net zero by 2040. It has been an excellent and informed debate, and one with much enthusiasm to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman.

We fully support the amendments and have little to add from these Benches following the expert contributions of those proposing the amendments and the other noble Lords who have spoken. I am sorry my noble friend Lady Young, who put her name to the amendments, cannot be here. She was a key member of our team during the recent passage of the Environment Bill, and her expertise and wisdom always guides and reflects our approach. The House is clearly interested in this vital matter, as we saw this week in an important Oral Question on the Prime Minister’s promise for a new, overarching net-zero test for new policies. Assuming the Government fully support the key commitment from NHS England, I hope that, in his response, the Minister will accept the need for the amendments and will not argue that the proposed new clause is unnecessary as NHS England already has a commitment that will percolate down to ICBs.

As we have heard, the power of public sector procurement is a massive issue and there is no bigger part of the public sector than the NHS. The NHS has such an important impact on other environment issues, such as waste, pollution and resource consumption, especially for plastics, paper and water. We should ensure we are on the front foot in using that impact to deliver the net-zero commitment.

The NHS has made a start, but there is much more to do. These amendments would reinforce the importance of action in these areas for the new bodies and processes that the Bill creates. The NHS is a big player and, as noble Lords have stressed, it can play a big role in tackling all of these climate change and environmental challenges. Procurement is a strong lever that the NHS can utilise in key markets, particularly in those areas where it is the sole purchaser. The noble Lord, Lord Stevens, was very eloquent on this issue and I look forward to the Minister’s response in the light of his contribution.

Like other speakers today, my noble friend Lady Young wanted to stress that action so far is only the beginning. In the light of the importance of climate change and other environmental challenges, we strongly support such a duty being in place for all the public and private bodies with significant impacts when future legislation comes through Parliament. We did that when inserting a sustainable development duty into the remit of every possible public body from the late 1990s onwards, but this time it has to be not only enacted but managed, delivered, tracked and reported.

As the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, told the House this week, every sector of government needs to do its bit, and we need to hold them to that. These amendments are vital, since every public body will have to take further action this decade if we are to restrain temperature rises to two degrees—far less, 1.5 degrees.

Finally, I too thank Peers for the Planet both for its work and, especially for me, its excellent briefing. As noble Lords have stressed, the NHS has committed to net zero and aims to be the world’s first net-zero national health service. It is responsible for around 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions. That is why the NHS’s role and contribution to net-zero targets should be fully integrated into the Bill. I look forward to the Minister’s response and his detailing of how the NHS is to achieve its ambitions. I hope that he will acknowledge that its commitment must be in the Bill. These amendments present a vital opportunity to enshrine in law a commitment that I think most, if not all, would want to see delivered.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, for the amendments and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for her opening remarks. I also thank the noble Baroness for her suggestion yesterday that it might make my life a lot easier if I just accepted amendments. I understand that advice, having just gone through a two-hour debate on the previous group.

A number of noble Lords referred to how these amendments relate to our previous debate on inequalities. I point out that that is sometimes not quite in the way that we would expect. We might think there is a direct connection, but sometimes the green agenda can be seen to be for those who can afford it—as I explained before, for the white, middle-class, patronising people who tell immigrant working-class communities what to do and push up their costs. Anti-car policies push up costs for those in rural areas, and there are higher fuel costs as we replace gas boilers with potentially more expensive heat pumps. We have to be aware of those issues. In the long term, I am optimistic. I look forward to the day when we have solar power and wind power, with storage capacity, which will reduce costs.

Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover (LD)
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Will the Minister look at this globally and recognise that the poorest are affected the worst? When he talks about those in poverty, he should think globally.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I accept that point, but I also accept that, sometimes, one can be patronised, and I do not accept being patronised as I was in the earlier debate. One day, there will be cheaper fuel, and we can look forward to it, but we have to make sure that the transition along the way is not seen to push up costs for working people, because we all feel passionately about this green agenda.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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The Minister was talking about the impact of policies on the poor. Does he agree that many of the products—the fabrics, the chemicals—are manufactured in the poorest areas of the world, producing pollution that has disastrous impacts on some of the poorest people?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I was going to come to the noble Baroness’s points, and I am grateful to her for raising these issues directly with me previously.

Turning to the amendments, I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayman and Lady Young of Old Scone, and the noble Lords, Lord Stevens and Lord Prior, for bringing this debate before the Committee. There is no doubt that the NHS has a significant carbon footprint. There is no doubt that a poor environment has direct and immediate consequence for our patients, the public and the NHS. There is no doubt that it has an impact on the health of the nation. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, pointed out, the NHS accounts for around 4% to 5% of UK emissions. If we go further, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, said, that is 40% of public service emissions. Noble Lords are right to highlight the critical role that the NHS has to play in achieving net zero.

To support that work, NHS England—thanks in part to work already started by the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, who I know has had conversations with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care—is leading the way through a dedicated programme of work, as many noble Lords acknowledged. This includes ambitious targets for achieving net zero for the NHS carbon footprint by 2045 and for its direct emissions by 2040. This is ahead of the target set by Section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008; we welcome that ambition and will continue to support the NHS in that.

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Lord Mawson Portrait Lord Mawson (CB)
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I thank the Minister. Can I just give an illustration about the local on this issue? I am certainly not an expert on climate change, but I am a practical person who worries a lot about granularity and the gap between a lot of talk I have heard over many years on all sides of this Chamber—with very large amounts of money cited, et cetera—and the realities in this building.

I am trying to buy an electric car at the moment, as a responsible citizen. When I went to have a look at the multi-storey car park below this building—the local—and wondered where I am going to plug it in when it arrives here, I ended up talking to one of the facilities managers, who was a very nice man. I asked him how many plug-in points there were underneath this building—again, the local. He said, “I don’t know, Lord Mawson, but I will look into this”.

He was diligent and came back to me. We started to have a conversation about it, and he began to suggest that I need to carry a cable in my car with a three-pin plug. I pointed out that my office is across St Margaret Street, in Old Palace Yard, on the third floor, so maybe I should run it across there with a carpet over it and up to the third floor to plug it in there. We had this amusing conversation. I said, “Well, go on then, tell me: how many are there in this building, where all this chatter and talk is taking place?” His answer was that there are two. I suggest that the gap between reality and rhetoric is very large indeed. If we are really going to deal with these issues—as we must—we must now become intensely interested in the NHS and in all the systems of government about practicality and the procurement machinery, which I suggest is not working.

I talked to one of the facilities people yesterday about my office, which has a light switch with a notice over the top of it telling you how to use it. It is completely ludicrous. She told me that that system is going to be different to all the systems here in the Palace of Westminster; none of it is joined up.

I think the Minister is right. The clue is in the local, but all our systems and our civil servants must now become interested in practicality and the local if we are really going to get serious about these matters. It is absolutely crucial to get procurement right, because without that, we will never deliver this.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for that intervention, and I completely agree. There are some incredibly inspirational projects going on in our local communities, tackling and addressing the green agenda, and sometimes, top-down, we may feel good about it in this place, but it really affects working people and those who face higher costs and we have to be very careful.

On the specific question of procurement, the NHS is already publicly committed to purchasing only from suppliers which are aligned with its net-zero ambitions by 2030, and last year, NHS England set out its roadmap giving further details to suppliers to 2030. This is supported by a broad range of further action on NHS net zero and we hope that by pushing this through at NHS England level, but also with ICSs, we can see some of that local innovation as local trusts and local care systems and even health and well-being boards respond to those local challenges—others could learn nationally. To respond to the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, NHS England will publish the world’s first net-zero healthcare building standard; this will apply to all projects being taken forward through the Government’s new hospital programme, which will see 48 new hospital facilities built across England by 2030.

There is political consensus on green issues. and we should pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, and the Green Party for making sure, over the years, that the green agenda has been put at the centre of British politics. We find green policies in all the election manifestos of the mainstream parties: that is in no small part due to the noble Baroness’s party and to the noble Baroness herself. So, even while we may disagree on how to achieve some of these things, there is no doubt that we are not going to reverse on our commitment. Whatever Governments are elected in future, all are committed to a carbon net-zero strategy and a cleaner environment. So, I must gently disagree with her that these amendments are necessary.

I would like to have further conversations with the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, given his experience, on why he feels that, despite all the great work that the NHS has been doing, these amendments are still necessary. I would like to have further conversations with him and others, but at this stage, I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment. Across the political spectrum, we must make sure that we are pushing the NHS to deliver, not only at the national level but at the ICS level and even lower, at the place level that the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, speaks so eloquently about.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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Before the noble Lord sits down, will he respond to the question, of which I gave him prior notice, about the document?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I apologise to the noble Baroness—I am so sorry, but I am trying to juggle 300 devices. That is a slight exaggeration, if I am honest. We recognise the importance of ensuring that all chemicals in the NHS supply chain are appropriate and properly managed as part of the net-zero strategy. I think the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, even touched upon some of the chemicals that were used and some of the issues he looked at during his time at the NHS when it comes to chemicals. The NHS must also comply fully with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, the CoSHH regulations.

More broadly, although Defra is the lead department for harmful chemicals, the UK Health Security Agency feeds in its expertise in relation to restricting and banning chemicals, and we are grateful to it for that work. The UKHSA is also looking at each of those chemicals, which we hope in future can be replaced by less harmful materials and chemicals. I undertake to write to the noble Baroness in more detail than the short answer I have given her at this stage.

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Baroness Walmsley Portrait Baroness Walmsley (LD)
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My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, I shall start with those who I think should not be on the board before I turn to those who I think should. To a great extent I support the noble Baroness’s Amendment 29, but with a small caveat that, if she wished to press it, might require a bit of redrafting. I will explain.

Additional provider medical services are very useful in many areas to fill gaps in primary care capacity. They may provide additional services from which other NHS primary care services have opted out, such as out-of-hours services or enhanced services beyond the capacity of local NHS GPs to deliver. In some areas they have taken over primary care services where NHS GP practices have become too small to be viable or all the partners have retired.

Some APMS services are commercial businesses with a responsibility to their shareholders to make a profit, and I do not think these should be on the board. However, some APMS contracts go to NHS entities, and I would not want to exclude those. Of course, we must remember that for many years GP practices have also been small businesses, sort of, operating within the umbrella and ethos of the NHS. They too need to clear their costs or they will close down.

That is all well and good. However, if the Government are serious that they want to exclude private sector interests from ICBs, they must surely agree to include in that ban non-NHS entities that hold APMS contracts. A failure to accept the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, must surely make us a little suspicious about the Government’s claim that their amendment inserted in another place would successfully exclude private interests from the board.

Amendment 29 would extend the range of those involved in commercial enterprises from being members of the board of an ICS beyond those that we have just discussed in relation to the noble Baroness’s Amendment 28. Amendment 29 would specifically exclude NHS GP practices and voluntary or not-for-profit organisations from the ban. There are many types of organisations that would be included in the ban, although they could be heard on the board of the integrated care partnerships. Those include: pharmaceutical companies; providers of medical devices, equipment or premises; people who own care homes; and many other essential services without which our NHS could not survive. However, their importance should not entitle them to influence the constitution, strategy or commissioning principles of the board of the ICS. They are important providers that will be appropriately involved in planning at other levels, but they should not be able to steer fundamental decisions without the suspicion that they might have a commercial interest in such decisions. Indeed, the ban proposed in the amendment would protect such companies from such a suspicion, so perhaps it would be welcomed by them.

Turning to those who should be on the board, I will not repeat what the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, said in introducing her amendments, because she has done it extremely well, particularly emphasising the impact of integrated services on people with learning difficulties and people with autism and how they could benefit from better integrated services if we got it right. So, I support her amendments.

I turn to Amendment 37, to which I have added my name to those of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, for the following reasons. According to the Explanatory Notes, each ICB and its partner local authorities will be required to establish an integrated care partnership, bringing together health, social care and public health. The constitution of the ICB as it stands in the Bill specifies that the board must include only a minimum of three types of people who the Government clearly believe are essential to the effective operation of the board. They are someone from NHS health trusts or foundation trusts, someone from primary care, and someone from one of the local authorities in the area. If it is okay to prescribe these members, would it not also be wise to prescribe a few other key people with appropriate knowledge in order to achieve the ICB’s objectives of bringing together health, social care and public health? This amendment therefore suggests five other nominees—not 15, bearing in mind the Government’s wish to keep the ICB to a manageable size. But given the powers of the board, I would think it essential to have people nominated from mental health, public health, social care, health trade unions, patients and carers to bring their knowledge to strategic decisions.

If the board is to comply with the ambition of parity of esteem for physical and mental health—which we talked about two days ago—it will be important to have someone with the knowledge of how mental health services are working, as my noble friend Lady Tyler emphasised. Public health is a very particular discipline, the importance of which has been amply shown during the pandemic, which also has a vital role to play if we are to improve the health of local people and level up inequalities. Social care provision should never be separate from or subsidiary to health, as it is intrinsic to the functioning of health services in every area, so it is inconceivable that any ICB should ever be without someone from that sector.

The NHS is a people business, which is why those who deliver the services and the patients who are on the receiving end should have a voice at the top. Similarly, those thousands of unpaid carers, without whom vulnerable people would use up more of the NHS’s scarce resources than they currently do, should be represented at the very top of these new organisations. Their contribution to the efficient use of the board’s financial resources is crucial.

If the objective is to encourage more integration and collaboration, how could it be right not to have these additional five or six groups of people helping to make the strategic decisions? If that is not the case, as has been said by other noble Lords, the board could be dominated by the large acute hospitals and primary care, and the integration objective of the Government, which I endorse, would fail. I look forward to the Minister’s reply.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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My Lords, this has been an excellent and wide-ranging debate, and I really am grateful to all noble Lords who tabled amendments today.

With your Lordships’ leave, I turn first to Amendment 18 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton. This amendment would mean that the relevant ICB and ICP would need to be consulted before NHS England is able to provide support and assistance to bodies other than NHS bodies. The NHS has, under successive Governments of all political colours—indeed, since its foundation in 1948—commissioned care from various sectors to help it be more responsive to patients’ needs, and particularly to help deliver the commitments set out in the NHS constitution.

The vast majority of NHS care has been—and will rightly continue to be—provided by taxpayer-funded public sector organisations. But experience before and during the pandemic has demonstrated how important it is for NHS England to have the power, as the Trust Development Authority currently does, to provide support and assistance to any providers of services on behalf of the NHS. This will ensure that independent providers can, if necessary, be commissioned to provide important additional capacity where needed.

Baroness Thornton Portrait Baroness Thornton (Lab)
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I really rather hoped the Minister would not go into whether or not I was suggesting that we should or should not be using private services. This is about who commissions services; this is not about who provides services. In my opening remarks, I said that a variety of providers is exactly what we have and will continue to have.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for that clarification.

The amendment seeks to exclude individuals whose GP practices hold an alternative provider of medical services, or APMS, contract from being a member of an integrated care board. While APMS contracts may not be appropriate for all GPs, they offer the ICBs, as commissioners, greater flexibility than other general practice contract types. As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, acknowledged, the APMS framework allows commissioners to contract specific primary medical care services to meet local needs. APMS contractors include some private and third sector social enterprises and GP partnerships, which provide outreach health services for homeless people, asylum seekers and others. It is quite clear that none of this diminishes the commitment to ensure that care is provided free at the point of use, paid for by taxpayers.

All contract holders providing NHS core primary medical services are subject to the same requirements, regulations and standards, regardless of the type of contract. The Care Quality Commission, as the independent regulator, ensures that all contracts meet these standards.

Some GP partnerships concurrently hold a general medical services contract for core medical provision, as well as an APMS contract. Some individual GPs provide services for a range of practices. The concern is that this amendment would exclude GPs working for one or multiple practices which operate under APMS contracts from being members of the ICB.

NHS England’s draft guidance states that nominated members of an ICB will be full members of the unitary board, bringing knowledge and a perspective from their sectors, but not acting as delegates of those sectors.

This amendment would prevent some individuals being on integrated care boards, based on what type of NHS GP contract their practice holds. This could limit the ability of primary medical service providers to appoint an ICB member who understands the health requirements of the local population. This could reduce the diversity of GPs who could be appointed, based on their contract type. If we think of the unintended consequences, this may inadvertently exclude representatives with much-needed expertise in serving specific local populations and addressing their health needs.

Earlier, we talked about tackling inequalities. I feel very strongly that there are sometimes unintended consequences, where people think that they know better what is best for their communities. It would be unfortunate to exclude APMS contracts, or anyone who had an APMS contract and who had the expertise needed for those communities that are not receiving an adequate service, or for poor, immigrant communities. This could go against the goal that we all want to see of tackling inequalities.

I now turn to Amendments 29 and 30. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, and the noble Lord, Lord Davies, for bringing this issue before the Committee. I understand the interest in the role of independent providers in the integrated care boards. I also understand the concern across the Committee to ensure that independent providers, including companies seeking to produce health and care products, should not be appointed to the board of ICBs. We agree. Integrated care boards will be NHS bodies whose board membership consists of a minimum of individuals nominated by NHS providers, GP services and local authorities whose areas coincide with that of the ICB.

Although, as has been acknowledged, service provision by the independent and voluntary sectors has been an important and valuable feature of the system under successive Governments, it has never been the intention for independent providers as corporate entities to sit on integrated care boards, nor for an individual appointed to be there as a representative of an individual provider, in any capacity. People must therefore be assured that the work of ICBs will be driven by health outcomes, not profit. However, we recognise that this is a matter of concern to many noble Lords, as well as to the other place. We have been keen to put this beyond doubt, which is why we brought forward the amendment on this very point at Report stage in the other place. This amendment makes clear that no one may be appointed to an ICB who would undermine the independence of the NHS as a result of their interests in the private healthcare sector, social enterprise or elsewhere, including the public sector.

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Baroness Walmsley Portrait Baroness Walmsley (LD)
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I apologise for interrupting the Minister, but I want to ask him a question going back to Amendment 28 and the APMS contracts. If we were to bring forward an amendment that made it very clear that we had no objection to NHS entities or not-for-profit organisations with APMS contracts being on the ICB, would he take a more friendly approach? It would just eliminate those that take profit out of the NHS.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for that suggestion and for trying to narrow the gap that there clearly is. If an amendment were put forward, we would look at it very carefully and consider the unintended consequences from the way it is drafted. We will consider it but, as I am sure the noble Baroness appreciates, I can make no promises at this stage.

I turn to the point made by my noble friend Lord Hunt of Wirral about how provider input in the work of an ICB will be reconciled with assessing both the suitability and performance of providers. As my noble friend correctly noted, each ICB must make arrangements on managing the conflict of interest and potential conflicts of interest, such that they do not and do not appear to affect the integrity of the board’s decision-making processes. Furthermore, each appointee to the ICB is expected to act in the interests of the ICB. They are not delegates of their organisations, but are there to contribute their experience and expertise for the effective running of the ICB—a point made most eloquently by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, my noble friend Lady Harding and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. It is important that this is about expertise, not the trust or organisation that they are taken from, or their skills and knowledge, as the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, said.

We are also keen to allow ICBs to develop their own governance arrangements, which best take their local circumstances into account. We want to give them the flexibility to learn and develop as their best practice evolves, so that other ICBs could learn from that best practice where there are concerns.

To support ICBs, NHS England is working with them to issue guidance and to develop and make clear our expectations of ICB leaders—expectations that have been reflected in the discussions and fantastic contributions from many noble Lords. For these reasons, I regret that the Government cannot accept these amendments at this stage. However, I hope I have given noble Lords such reassurance that they feel able to withdraw their amendments.

Turning to the membership of integrated care boards, I will begin with Amendments 27, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have brought forward these amendments today. I understand the interest from all sides in this membership. Schedule 2 sets out the minimum membership of the integrated care board; it will need to include members nominated by NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts, by persons who provide primary medical services and by local authorities of areas that coincide with or include the whole or any part of the ICB’s area.

I take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, about mental health. I am sure he recalls the debate on Tuesday, when noble Lords felt very strongly about this. I have offered to meet many noble Lords from across the Committee who indicated that they want to see this parity with mental health, which they do not believe is implicit at the moment, even if we believe that “health” refers to physical and mental health. Indeed, it refers to spiritual health in many ways. But we understand that we have to close that gap and I will make sure that the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, is invited to those meetings.

It is important for us that we are not overprescriptive, which is especially true of any membership requirement. Any extension beyond the proposed statutory minimum will risk undermining local flexibility to design a board, as my noble friends Lord Mawson and Lady Harding and others have said, in the most suitable way for each area’s unique needs, drawing on the best expertise, but not where they are from. It may also make the boards less nimble and less able to make important decisions rapidly if we overprescribe.

It is important to remind the Committee—I apologise if noble Lords do not appreciate the repetition—that we set a floor and not a ceiling. The ICB can appoint board members if it wishes. Local areas can, by agreement, go beyond the legislative minimum requirements. They will want to ensure they appoint individuals with the experience and expertise to address the needs and fulfil the functions. Areas are already doing this. For example, in south-east London the ICB is proposing to include three provider members—acute, community and mental health—and six place members, one for each borough. This approach is exactly how we want ICBs to use the flexibility available to them.

If, in time, some of the concerns expressed today by noble Lords become clear—such as issues being skated over, ignored or elbowed out by others with louder voices—we may need to add further requirements that relate to ICB membership, and there are regulation-making powers in place in Schedule 2 to allow the Secretary of State to do so. Furthermore, NHS England has the power to issue statutory guidance to ICBs. It could, for example, use this to recommend that each ICB should consider appointing a learning disability and autism senior responsible officer, as I know the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, has asked for and has spoken about most eloquently many times, most recently in a debate a few weeks ago.

Taken together, our approach reflects our view and, I reiterate, the view of the NHS that we should not attempt to overlegislate for the composition of ICBs and instead let them evolve as effective local entities to reflect local need. Let us get the right balance between the top-down and bottom-up approach, and make sure that they are relevant to their local areas. I am afraid that these amendments are seen to take a different approach, by adding more people to the minimum requirements for the ICB, making them larger but not necessarily better. They also add additional complexity by introducing a significant number of members who are responsible for activity outside the NHS. We think these would be better represented on the integrated care partnerships, which have a broader remit. I come back to the point that it is about expertise, not which trust.

I will consider the comments made by noble Lords very carefully if some of the concerns have not been met, and will have future conversations, between this stage and the next, if they feel that we have not addressed their concerns completely. I regret that the Government cannot accept these amendments. I hope that I have given your Lordships some, if not complete, reassurance and that noble Lords will feel able at this stage to withdraw and not press their amendments.

Baroness Thornton Portrait Baroness Thornton (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his detailed response. I was disappointed with the first remarks he made because he resorted to the mantra that the Government tend to go to when the question of private sector interests in delivering healthcare is raised by this side of the House. That is a shame, because the questions that we have raised are legitimate. In fact, his friends in the Commons accepted the conflicts of interest that could arise from private sector interests being represented on ICBs. We were seeking to make sure that that is watertight and there is no way of it changing. That is a legitimate question to ask.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley and Lady Meacher, for supporting Amendment 37, which is the key amendment in this group as to who may or may not be members of the board.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, made a powerful case for the interests of people with learning disabilities and autism being represented. We know that where health systems make the health of people with learning disabilities a central priority, the whole health system benefits from it. That has happened in some places—for example, in Manchester—and it demonstrates how we improve the whole system. It is an important point.

My noble friend Lady Bakewell made the point about Centene and Operose, and that is partly why I put forward my amendment on APMS. The Minister may recall that we raised this matter in Questions a few weeks ago, when I asked him to write to me about what system had been used to give that contract to Centene, or Operose, in Camden, the area where I live. Having served on the CCG in Camden, I was aware of the importance of who runs primary care and of who the GPs in our surgeries are. Having right and proper people and organisations running our primary care was one of the criteria that you would use as a commissioner when you were looking at who was running, and who might wish to run, primary care and GP surgeries. I was involved in that process. As I learn about the history and background of this organisation now running primary care and GP surgeries in the UK, I do not think they are right and proper people to be doing that.

If this amendment does not serve the purpose of stopping that happening, I ask the Minister and the Bill team to reflect on what we might need to do to ensure that those from the private sector, social enterprises and charities whom we commission to run parts of our health service are right and proper people to do so. The remarks made in that regard by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, were very interesting and useful, as they often are.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, made the point about public health. That is the theme running through this Bill: the need for public health to be represented. She was also absolutely correct to bring us back to the idea that clinical leadership is very important. Of course it is. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London asked some pertinent questions.

My noble friend Lady Pitkeathley raised the issue of social enterprises, which is close to my heart. I am the honorary secretary of the All-Party Group for Social Enterprise, which I helped to found 20-odd years ago. The APPG has just completed an inquiry, chaired by the noble Earl, Lord Devon, about the impact of Covid on social enterprises, which absolutely illustrates the points made by my noble friend and which I will share with the Minister when it is available.

The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, made relevant points about Allied Healthcare. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and I agree that the problem with APMS is that there is a lack of clarity and it is a bit of a loophole, and we need to look at it again. This may not be the Bill to do it in, but it might be.

With those remarks, and hopeful that the issue of who the members of the ICBs will be will run through our discussions for the next few weeks, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Kamall Excerpts
Lords Hansard - Part 1
Tuesday 18th January 2022

(6 days, 6 hours ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Health and Care Bill 2021-22 - Government Bill Page Read Hansard Text
Lord Mackay of Clashfern Portrait Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con)
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My Lords, I am sorry to intervene at this stage but I cannot let the opportunity pass to say, in my view, how important it is that children be particularly referred to and their circumstances be properly taken into account. We have very powerful legislation on the care of children, but the same is not true with health, and it is extremely important that that be kept in view. Apart from anything else, special staff and treatments are required for children, and I therefore strongly support this amendment. I am sorry that I was not able to do so at a more appropriate time, but I arrived a little later than I would have liked.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by thanking all the noble Lords who have tabled these amendments for debate, and noble Lords from across the House for their eloquent contributions. As the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, rightly said, it is important that, as the fifth-largest economy in the world, we treat all our citizens equally and give them the respect and access to services they deserve. As she also said, the strength of feeling across the House on the importance of this issue is clear, and this was amplified most eloquently by my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern.

With your Lordships’ agreement, I will look at some of these amendments from a different perspective. Each amendment touches on a different aspect of providing health and care for children. Before I turn to matters of detail, let me say that we believe that the Health and Care Bill’s proposals represent a huge opportunity to support and improve service planning and provision and ensure that they better meet the needs of infants, children and young people.

With your Lordships’ permission, I will start by addressing Amendment 20, which was spoken to so eloquently by the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, and my noble friend Lord Polak. It would clarify and prioritise how the Better Care Fund could be used to integrate services for children. I remind the Committee that the relevant legislation does not prevent the use of the Better Care Fund for the integration of children’s services. The disabled facilities grant within the BCF is already used to fund housing adaptation for individuals aged under 18 with disabilities. Some areas also extend the scope of their BCF-funded initiatives to include integrated services for children and young people.

However, we can go further. The Government believe that integrated care partnerships and integrated care boards represent a huge opportunity for partnership working. The Bill explicitly requires integrated care partnerships to consider whether needs could be met more effectively under Section 75 of the NHS Act 2006, which provides for arrangements to be made between NHS bodies and local authorities. The Government are also working on bespoke guidance on the measures that statutory bodies should take to ensure that they will deliver for babies, children and young people.

Turning to Amendment 51, I particularly welcomed the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, on vulnerable children. The amendment would require ICBs to share and collect information from partners when arranging for the provision of services for pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding and young children. I sympathise with the amendment, and in fact, I would go further: one of my three big priorities in my departmental portfolio, as the Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences, is to push digitalisation and sharing data. As all noble Lords have rightly said, that is not just for children’s services but right across the sector. We hear stories almost every day of something that could have been prevented, had data been shared more appropriately.

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Baroness Thornton Portrait Baroness Thornton (Lab)
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My Lords, I will speak to the amendments to Clause 14, which is a very important clause. There is absolutely no doubt about that, and the Minister can be in no doubt that that is exactly how we see it. It was touch and go whether we would have a clause stand part debate on this, and I am not sure that we were right not to do so, because this debate, particularly my noble friend Lord Hunt’s comments, has highlighted some serious problems.

My noble friend Lady Pitkeathley is quite right that the arrangements that we are seeking to put into statute, which have grown up over the last few years to allow areas to collaborate, were the right thing to do. In my area of the world, I have no doubt that it was important that the boroughs collaborated together, particularly in their relationship with and commissioning of services from the very big providers.

The question in Clause 14 is: what is going on with the arrangements that the Government are putting into statute? I am very pleased to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and to speak to Amendments 23 and 44 in my name. Amendment 23 addresses the vexed issue of boundaries for an ICB. In this Bill we are dealing with geography, whereas the 2012 Act dealt with GP lists. The area of an ICB is defined in terms of tier 1 local authorities.

Concerns have been expressed, because the NHS is often a bit clueless and sometimes very defensive about local government, its boundaries and its powers. Maybe the Minister will tell me I am wrong, but I suspect that one of the reasons why elected members have been precluded from the boards is that the NHS does not feel comfortable with the direct democratic accountability at that level. That is a great shame. I think it is wrong; accountability is extremely important.

How can we have an integrated service when social care is provided by local government, which is democratically accountable, and we want to integrate that with the NHS at a local level in an area to provide the best service that we can for that population and those patients? The almost offensive way of constructing a board that does not allow elected representatives is not acceptable.

My quite modest amendment seeks to change that situation for the future. There were exchanges in the Commons about this, and there have been meetings with disgruntled authorities that seem to have ended without agreement. We may need to take a step back and learn some of the lessons, perhaps from Scotland and Wales where more logical boundaries have been applied for their health boards.

We may learn a bit more about plans for integrated commissioning at this level when we get the promised but overdue White Paper on integration. It is possible that it will set up a third set of geographies, and who knows how that will line up? This seems to be the wrong way around. Our amendments at least elevate the need to consult with local authorities over boundaries to start off with. That is perhaps a pious hope, but we can agree that any future changes can be made only if the local authorities agree.

Amendment 159 arises out of lengthy discussions elsewhere. In the twin-striker model for ICS, we have the ICBs and the ICPs. We know almost nothing about ICPs; all that is said is that it is part of the “flexibility” and so should be valued. Referring back to my previous remarks, I just hope that local authorities will be genuinely involved in the ongoing discussions about ICPs, how they are set up and their governance. What we do know is that the ICPs will own the analysis of needs and the strategy that follows from that. What, therefore, is the role of local health and well-being boards?

There are echoes of 2012 here, as, during the consideration of the 2012 Bill, amendments were advanced on the same issue. In the 2012 version, it was the health and well-being boards that did the strategy and the CCGs that did the commissioning, at least of health. Nobody ever properly addressed how social care would be commissioned in any integrated way in a wider strategy. It was proposed in 2012 that the health and well-being boards had to approve the plans of the CCGs, and that was the glue that would hold the whole thing together. We know that that has not worked. It has sometimes worked on paper, but it is not the thing that has driven the work of the CCGs.

The answer so far for 2022 is that everyone will play nicely and it will all be resolved. I do not think that can possibly be the case when there is such a serious imbalance. Our Amendment 159 acknowledges that there just might be a dispute over whether some decision or plan of an ICB was genuinely aligned to the strategy that it was supposed to be following, so a process for resolution is needed.

I am not sure whether Amendment 44 sits easily in this group, but it is a matter on which assurance is needed. When foundation trusts came into being, they were rather bravely given the power to set their own terms and conditions for staff. One of them might have tried it, and it was not a great success. In general, despite whatever powers exist, almost every part of the NHS follows the Agenda for Change, the collective agreement that took 10 years to agree but which has stood the tests of time.

Now, as with CCGs, we have the power of ICBs to set their own terms and conditions. They are probably unlikely to do so, as it takes an enormous amount of work and the risks that it brings are probably not worth the effort. Without doubt, some staff are worried that they just might be the ones picked on for special treatment. The Minister will no doubt say that the ICBs need the flexibility, but surely, given the pandemic and everything else that faces the NHS, it would be much better to give staff certainty and confidence they will be treated properly.

We agree with the sentiments of Amendments 22 and 24, which try to ensure that agreement on ICB constitutions will be done promptly. We agree with the sentiments of Amendment 53, which echoes a previous amendment about the need to drive improvement. In my noble friend’s Amendment 45, he asks a legitimate question, which I think the Minister will need to answer.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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Once again, I thank all noble Lords for bringing this debate before the Committee today. There have been a wide range of views on the establishment of the ICSs and on what is currently going on in the NHS.

I will start with Amendments 22 and 24 from the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, which were supported very strongly by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of King’s Heath, and on the ICBs’ establishment. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for bringing the amendments, and I understand her concerns about ensuring that ICBs are established in a timely way. We agree. We have had an interesting debate here. A number of people have said that it is really important, given that ICSs have already been established, that you put it on a statutory footing, but we are also being asked how they dare to go ahead and do this, because the legislation is not there yet.

In recognition of the fact that ICSs have been set up in some areas and are being established, we are trying to get the right balance. That is why work is under way to prepare existing organisations, including CCGs, for the transition once the Bill comes into force.

The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, rightly asked whether NHS England is pre-empting Parliament. He raises an important point but I assure him that the powers necessary for establishing each ICB and publishing any statutory guidance cannot be made until the Bill has been enacted and the relevant provisions commenced. However, to ensure that ICBs are ready to begin work, NHS England is producing a range of draft guidance, including a model constitution, so that system partners can start work on preparations—but this does not have the power of statutory guidance. The guidance and the model constitution are based on the proposed requirements—

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Portrait Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab)
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My Lords, I accept that but how can NHS England give guidance to say that no local authority councillor can be on the ICB? That is not for NHS England to say, and how can it do it prior to the Bill going through Parliament? It is for Parliament to decide these matters, not a quango.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I apologise to the noble Lord because I was coming to answer that point, but maybe in too long-winded a way. One issue that was clearly raised, and very strongly felt in the contributions from more than one noble Lord, was about banning councillors from sitting on boards. There is nothing in the Bill that expressly bans this. We recognise the points raised in this debate and will raise them directly with NHS England. It is not statutory guidance.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Portrait Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab)
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I am sorry but this is a very important point. They have made the appointments and are not going to start again, which of course they should, because this is an absolutely hopeless position. No one from NHS England has ever had the guts to come here to explain why they are making this decision, and who will believe it? The chair of the ICB is appointed by NHS England. They know that NHS England does not want local authority councillors on the boards. Who are they going to take notice of? They are going to take notice of NHS England. The Minister has to tell NHS England to stop sending out this ludicrous guidance and telling the NHS that the new arrangements will start from 1 July. It cannot possibly do so if we go through what is contained in Clause 14.

I sympathise with the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, but the fact is that we must have a three-month consultation process on the proposals. This is the problem we are in: none of this stands up because Parliament is being treated with absolute contempt by NHS England.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I hear the strength of feeling from the noble Lord. I will take this back to the department and discuss it with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. I hope noble Lords are reassured by that. I may not get the perfect answer, but I will try. I understand the strength of feeling on this issue; no one can fail to do so. Let us put it this way: it was not subtle but direct. It is really important that, as the Minister here, I take this back and reflect the feeling of the House in my conversations with the Secretary of State, and his subsequent conversations with NHS England. I will take that back and look at the consultation process and the CCGs consulting all the relevant local authorities.

I understand the point made strongly by the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, that we have to be careful about prescribing in a top-down way how to work locally. I have always been a strong believer in localism and making sure that powers go down to a local level rather than being taken away. Let me again assure the noble Lords, Lord Scriven and Lord Hunt, and other noble Lords that I will take this back, because clearly there is concern. I had not appreciated the strength of that concern. At Second Reading the noble Lords, Lord Stevens and Lord Adebowale, said, “We are already doing this. It makes sense to go ahead and put it on a statutory footing”. But I have now heard the other side of the argument, and it suggests that I should go back and have a stronger conversation with, in effect, my boss—my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. I hope that gives some reassurance.

On Amendment 44, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, I assure your Lordships that we intend to provide as much stability of employment as possible while ICBs develop their new roles and functions. I hope that noble Lords are aware that there is already an existing commitment that staff transferring into ICBs will transfer across on their current terms and conditions in line with the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service Handbook. NHS pension rights will also be preserved. As a result, staff transferring into ICBs will not see any change to their existing conditions.

However, the Government are concerned about forcing ICBs to adopt conditions and practices that the ICBs do not believe work best for new staff. We believe that it is important to give ICBs flexibilities relating to staff terms and conditions; they are there for a reason. For example, when it is difficult to recruit and staff are going elsewhere, this would include allowing ICBs the flexibility to diverge from collectively agreed pay scales in order to attract staff from elsewhere or with unusual or valuable skills, or to reflect local circumstances. It will also give ICBs the flexibility to support joint working and bring in staff currently working in local authorities or foundation trusts, for example, supporting integration and the joint working approach that the Bill hopes to encourage.

I also note that ICBs having the independence and flexibility to choose whether to adopt collectively agreed pay conditions and pensions for new staff is not unique, as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, acknowledged. NHS foundation trusts, which are already free to exercise their discretion in adopting such conditions, overwhelmingly choose to honour and apply such terms to their staff unless there are good reasons to diverge.

On the proposals for very senior managers, existing procedures are in place to ensure that the most senior staff within the NHS are appointed with fair and equitable salaries. Proposals to pay very senior staff more than £150,000 must be similar to those for other equivalent roles or be subject to ministerial oversight.

The Government are in the process of finalising the procedures that will apply for ICBs. The specifics may differ but the effect and intention will be the same: to afford ICBs agency in setting pay at competitive rates so that we can continue to attract the most senior and experienced leaders, while putting adequate checks and balances in place to ensure appropriate use of taxpayers’ money and keep senior public sector salaries at an appropriate level. The Government believe that this amendment, which also asks for ICPs to approve annual salaries in excess of £161,000, is unnecessary. I am happy to have further conversations.

I now turn to the amendments on how the ICBs will function once established, starting with that in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Brixton, which relates to the question of treatment outside the ICB area. The new clause in question provides that NHS England must publish rules for determining the people for whom integrated care boards have responsibility. Importantly, this clause ensures that everyone in England is covered by an ICB.

We intend that the rules set by NHS England should replicate the current system for CCGs as closely as possible. This means that the ICB will be responsible for everyone who is provided with NHS primary medical services in the area—for example, anyone registered with a GP. It will also be responsible for those who are usually a resident in England and live in their area if they are not provided with NHS primary medical services in the area of another ICB.

It is important to remember that no one will be denied healthcare on the basis of where they live. We want to ensure that, under the new model, bodies that arrange NHS services—decision-making bodies—are required to protect, promote and facilitate the right of patients to make choices with respect to services or treatment. This means allowing patients to choose to be treated outside their ICB area. Choice is a long-standing right in the NHS and has been working well for some time. The Bill continues to protect and promote it. However, I am afraid that we have concerns about this amendment, as it places a requirement on providers rather than commissioners. It would not be reasonable to expect providers to provide services regardless of whether they were funded by an ICB to do so, and it is important that ICBs should be able to make decisions about with whom they contract and where they prioritise their resources.

On Amendment 53, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, I hope I can assure the Committee that the Government are committed to ensuring continuous improvement in the quality of services provided to the public. As your Lordships will be aware, there is already a wider range of duties in relation to the continuous improvement of services. Clause 20 imposes on ICBs a duty as to the improvement in quality of services. Furthermore, the ICB must set out how it proposes to discharge that duty at the start of each year in its joint forward plan and explain how it discharged the duty at the end of each year in its annual report. I hope this goes some way to meeting the noble Baroness’s concerns.

Clause 16, which this amendment seeks to alter, recreates for ICBs the commissioning duties and powers currently conferred on CCGs in the NHS Act 2006. It ensures that ICBs have a legal duty to commission healthcare services for their population groups. It also recreates Section 3A of the 2006 Act, which provides the commissioning body with an additional power to commission supplementary healthcare services in addition to the services they are already required to commission. This power enables ICBs to arrange for the provision of discretionary services that may be appropriate to secure improvements in the health of the people for whom it is responsible—or improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness in those persons—so it is important that the clause remains as it is currently drafted.

The Bill will ensure that the existing local commissioning duties conferred by the NHS Act 2006 will transfer over to ICBs. This is set out in proposed new Section 3, which is also to be inserted by Clause 16 on page 13. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, will be reassured that it rightly uses “must” rather than “may” when referring to the arranging of services. I can therefore assure the Committee that ICBs will continue to commission the services previously delivered by CCGs. That will ensure that service delivery for patients is not impacted.

Amendment 159 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, touches on the important relationship between ICBs and ICPs. I remember that, when we had an earlier consultation, the Bill team had a diagram about how ICBs and ICPs would work together; It might be helpful if I ask for that to be sent to noble Lords so that all of us can have more informed conversations about the intentions of the amendments and the issues that noble Lords want to raise. I will make sure that that is done.

This amendment would add a requirement for the Secretary of State to make regulations to establish a dispute resolution procedure if an ICB fails to have regard to an assessment of needs, an integrated care strategy or a joint local health and well-being strategy in respect of the ICB’s area. The Bill was introduced to ensure that existing collaboration and partnership, working across the NHS, local authorities and other partners, is built on and strengthened; I recognise the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Scriven.

We intend for these assessments and strategies to be a central part of the decision-making process of ICBs and local authorities. That is why we are extending an existing duty on ICBs and local authorities to have regard to relevant local assessments and strategies. The ICB and local authorities will be directly involved in the production of these strategies and assessments through their involvement with both the ICP and health and well-being boards at place—that is, at a more geographical level. As a result, they have a clear interest in the smooth working of the ICP.

More widely, there are several mechanisms to ensure that ICBs and local authorities will have regard and not intentionally disregard the assessments and strategies being developed at place in their areas. First, health and well-being boards have the right to be consulted.

Lord Lansley Portrait Lord Lansley (Con)
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I just had a flashback moment. I remember being asked, or volunteering, a decade ago to produce a chart of the various organisations under the 2012 Act. I think that the King’s Fund did a rather good job of doing it back then; perhaps it might do it again, although it will find that it is more complicated this time.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, asked a perfectly reasonable question that might simplify the process. If health and well-being boards do the same job as integrated care partnerships, in large measure, why cannot integrated care partnerships and health and well-being boards be the same organisation?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I remember hearing in an earlier discussion on the Bill that nothing prevents that where they coincide. My noble friend and I have had conversations about health and well-being boards and where they sit. Given that, and given my noble friend’s experience of this issue, perhaps we could have a further conversation on this matter before the next stage to clarify some of the issues that he rightly raised in previous conversations.

At this moment, we believe there are mechanisms to ensure that ICBs and local authorities have regard to and do not disregard the assessments of the health and well-being boards. As my noble friend points out, that is for further conversations.

As noble Lords know, NHS England must also consult each health and well-being board on how the ICB has implemented its joint health and well-being strategies, so there is another level of reassurance there. The ICB must also include in its annual report a review of the steps it has taken to implement any relevant joint local health and well-being strategy and must consult the health and well-being board when undertaking that review. NHS England has formal powers of intervention if an ICB is not complying with its duty in any regard. That is sufficient to ensure that ICBs will have regard to both ICP and health and well-being board plans, but I understand the concerns raised.

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for bringing these amendments before the Committee today. I am also grateful to all noble Lords, who have offered me two bits of advice thus far: first, “You can make your life a lot easier if you just accept our amendments”; and secondly, “Don’t worry about the other amendments, just accept mine; that’s who needs to be on the board”. I hope all noble Lords understand the sort of advice I have been given, as I consider my response.

The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, raises an important point and there is clearly understanding and support for ensuring that there is primary care representation on ICBs. This is a topic that we have both discussed and are likely to return to. I am in danger of sounding like a scratched record, for those who remember vinyl—I am told it is making a comeback—but I hope not to, or to labour the point too much, by repeating the arguments we have already discussed at length.

We fully agree that the membership of ICBs should include individuals from a number of places and this is why we have set a requirement that ICBs should have at least one member nominated by the primary medical care providers on the board. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, made a couple of very useful points here. The board should have available to it the talent and skill sets that it needs, but there should also be a balance that does not overwhelm any one set of skills. That is one of our concerns as we look at not overprescribing the make-up of the ICBs.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, is absolutely correct that, given the debates we have had up to now, there will have to be more discussions on the ICBs between this stage and the next. I accept that; we will have meetings and roundtables to discuss this, and I know there might well be more amendments on the membership of the ICBs. Before those discussions, I would just reiterate at this stage that this is a floor, not a ceiling; it is a minimum requirement. ICBs are able to appoint individuals with those skills as they see fit, and we would hope that they would, to make sure that they meet the health requirements and tackle the health challenges of the local areas they cover. As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and my noble friend Lady Harding of Winscombe said last time we discussed these issues, it is important not to be overprescriptive and close off the opportunities to tailor boards to each local area. The noble Lord spoke very eloquently about his experience of building a board in a particular place, which might have been quite different, had it been in another place.

Turning to Amendment 41B, the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, raised an important point about ensuring there is sufficient representation of clinicians with experience of public health and secondary care. We fully agree that ensuring that sufficient clinical expertise is available to the ICB is critical. We do so through a duty imposed on ICBs to seek advice from persons with a range of professional expertise in, for example, prevention, which noble Lords have said we should focus on, diagnosis or treatment in illness, and the protection or improvement of public health. This applies at every level of the ICB and impacts how it discharges its functions. As a result, I can assure the Committee that the clinical voice will be heard loud and clear at every level—not just at the ICB or ICP level, but in the health and well-being boards.

For the reasons I have discussed, I am afraid that I do not agree at this stage that the best way to ensure this would be by requiring two additional members of the ICB. This would take away the flexibility provided to ICBs and potentially inhibit their ability to respond to their own area’s local needs. Finally, I would not want to risk ICBs believing that their duty to seek clinical advice would be discharged solely by appointing two clinicians to their board—saying, “Okay, we have those two clinicians, that box is ticked”. The noble Lord, Lord Scriven, made a point about a staff member called Gladys, whose role ticked a box. We have to be very careful that we do not repeat that mistake with two tick boxes. Instead, ICBs should seek appropriate advice from subject matter experts. This may mean seeking advice from different clinicians for different issues and developing different models of seeking advice for different types of decision.

As I said earlier, we will have discussions about the whole ICB composition between this stage and the next. In that spirit, I hope the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, will be a little reassured and feel able to withdraw her amendment.

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Baroness Merron Portrait Baroness Merron (Lab)
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My Lords, I think it is fair to say that the debate today across your Lordships’ House has shown that it is impossible to understand how specialist palliative care can be regarded in any logical, practical or humane sense as something so different. I am sure that the Minister will do his very best to address that in his consideration of these important amendments.

I am grateful to noble Lords for making this debate possible by bringing forward these amendments and making sensitive, informed and often personal contributions to underline the need to ensure that specialist palliative care features in the Bill. I am particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for setting out the fact that if we are to say that the NHS is cradle-to-grave, that must absolutely shape how we approach such services. The noble Baroness and others, including the right reverend Prelate, talked about inequality and the fact that, when we speak of specialist palliative care, inequalities are not just in the course of someone’s life but actually to the very moment they leave this world. That really had an impact on me, because that surely is an unfairness too far for us to just stand by.

Taking action could not be more pressing a need. We know that the UK’s population is ageing rapidly. The Office for National Statistics predicts that, in 20 years’ time, there will be twice as many people over the age of 85, while Marie Curie’s analysis for Cardiff University has concluded that the number of people needing palliative care will rise by 42% by 2040. This is a challenge to our society which will not go away. As the noble Lord, Lord Patel, said, we should be able to live our lives in anticipation of a good death. The right reverend Prelate spoke of the difference of witnessing a good death, as opposed to a death that is less than what it should be.

It is important to say that, even before the pandemic, experts at the Royal College of Physicians, the Care Quality Commission, the health service ombudsman and Compassion in Dying were all sounding the alarm on how those approaching the end of their life, and their loved ones, did not, in so many circumstances, feel supported to make the decisions that faced them and that it was impossible to turn away from. They did not know what choices were available, and, sadly, were not given an honest prognosis.

The amendments in this group offer dignity to the greatly increasing numbers who will need this care, and would bring in moral and well-evidenced measures essential to providing the tailored care that is needed in the final stages of one’s life. This includes sharing information about a person’s care across the different professionals and organisations involved in that care, and providing patients and their loved ones with specialist advice, 24 hours a day, every day of the week—which expert practitioners, including those at Cicely Saunders International, have been crying out for.

My noble friends Lord Hunt and Lord Howarth, the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and others underlined the work, role and contribution of the hospice movement, and also spoke about their incredulity at the reliance on charitable funding. Who in this Committee can be surprised at that feeling? I hope the Minister will be able to speak to that absolutely crucial point because, even before the pandemic, many hospices were suffering from poor decisions from clinical commissioning groups, poor practice, and a lack of support and recognition of the vital role that they play. That impacts on the individuals who so sorely need their services.

Marie Curie reported that 76% of carers who lost a loved one during the pandemic felt that they did not get the appropriate care that they needed. This is an opportunity to fix the problem. Every day, pandemic or none, the quality and personalisation of specialist palliative care will dictate how dignified and comfortable —or not—the end of a life will be, and how much of a burden will be borne by the carers and loved ones: whether, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, reminded us, those left behind are adults or children. These amendments seek to get it right, and the feeling of this Committee could not be clearer. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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My Lords, as we reach the closing minutes of today’s debate and reflect on the wonderful contributions from across the Committee, perhaps it is fitting that we also talk about the final chapter of life, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Carlisle said.

I thank all noble Lords who spoke very movingly today, particularly the noble Baronesses, Lady Meacher, Lady Hollins and Lady Walmsley, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and my noble friends Lady Hodgson and Lady Fraser, who spoke about their own experiences. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, for pointing out the 42% figure, which is very important to recognise. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for the engagement we had prior to this debate and for her helpful engagement with our officials and the Bill team. I hope that will continue.

What is interesting about this is that when I was younger, we as a society found it very difficult to talk about death. I was once told by my parents that the British find it very difficult to talk about death, except in faith groups. It is interesting that, over time, as we have become an ageing society, we are talking, as a matter of fact, about death. We talk about our wills, financial planning, and planning for care at the end of our life. It is appropriate that we recognise this. The fact is that, nowadays, when we look at the hospice movement, we do not think of it as a quaint little service or a charity; we think that it provides an essential service to help someone at the end of their life, and we recognise the difference between palliative care and end-of-life care.

I hope that I can reassure the Committee that the Government are committed to ensuring that people of all ages have the opportunity to benefit from high-quality, personalised palliative and end-of-life care, if and when they need it. I also pay tribute to the noble Lords, Lord Howarth and Lord Scriven, for their contributions. The noble Lord, Lord Howarth, talked about the role that the arts play in helping those at the end of their life, which he has talked about in a number of discussions we have had on this issue. Like the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, he made the point that while you want to see the state do more, you do not want to push or squeeze out the hospice movement, as we need the right balance.