Amendment 5

Health and Care Bill - Committee (Day 1) – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 11th January 2022.

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Lord Stevens of Birmingham:

Moved by Lord Stevens of Birmingham

5: Clause 3, page 2, line 8, at end insert—“(ba) in subsection (2) insert— “(c) whether for the period covered by the mandate NHS England must ensure that revenue expenditure on mental health services increases as a proportion of total NHS revenue expenditure.””Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would require the Secretary of State to be explicit and transparent about whether NHS England is required to ensure funding for mental health services grows as a share of total NHS revenue expenditure during the period covered by its mandate from the Government.

Photo of Lord Stevens of Birmingham Lord Stevens of Birmingham Crossbench

My Lords, these amendments all relate to mental health, and I should perhaps start by following in the wake of my former colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, and declaring my former interest as an NHS chief executive.

I doubt whether anyone here needs persuading of the importance of mental health. Over the past decade, there has been a sea change in public awareness and attitudes and, at the same time, the NHS has begun to expand services to make good historic deficits, but it is not mission accomplished—far from it. The mission has just got a lot tougher. The pandemic has exacerbated and intensified mental health needs not just in this country but across the industrialised world. To take just one data point, we have seen a 69% increase in the number of young people being referred to specialist children and adolescent mental health services, including for eating disorders. At a time when, entirely appropriately, the focus is on cutting waits for surgical operations, we must make sure that mental health continues to get the focus, priority and constancy of commitment that it requires.

The purpose of this group of amendments is to ensure that that occurs. Having moved Amendment 5, I shall speak to related Amendments 12 and 136 in my name and those of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hollins, Lady Merron and Lady Tyler.

In a nutshell, our Amendment 5 would ensure that Government mandates to NHS England always contain explicit and transparent marching orders on mental health funding. I think it was a fellow called James Frick who said:

“Don’t tell me what your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I'll tell you what they are.”

That is why, in England, each year since 2015, mental health investment has been required to grow as a share of the NHS funding pie, and I am pleased to tell your Lordships that it has done so. The Minister should not take this amendment as a criticism; it is an encouragement to stay the course of putting our money where our mouth is, towards parity of esteem—or, if he prefers, levelling up between physical and mental health.

Of course, the mathematically minded among your Lordships might argue that if the share of NHS spending going on mental health keeps increasing, eventually we will have overshot what is needed. My response is twofold. First, in the real world, we are many years away from that happy state of affairs, and, in any event, the amendment does not require Governments to increase the relative share of resourcing for mental health; it simply requires them to be intentional and public about their mental health funding choices. It does not tie Ministers’ hands; it just requires them to reveal their hand. It means that the Government have to be clear about their asks of the NHS, and Amendments 12 and 136 mean that the NHS in turn has to be transparent in reporting on its delivery of them.

That is why these amendments command strong support outside this House from leading mental health charities, patients’ groups, and professions. Taken together, in practice the amendments represent spine stiffeners for the Government and accountability boosters for the NHS. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Howarth of Newport Lord Howarth of Newport Labour

My Lords, I welcome the amendments in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins. The emphasis on prevention in her Amendment 13 is particularly important.

I will make two points. There is abundant evidence that the engagement of the creative imagination can benefit mental health through improving well-being, confidence and self-esteem. The Creative Health report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing discusses, for example, the work of Artlift, a charity founded by a GP, Dr Simon Opher, which delivers arts on prescription in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. One participant said:

“I had split up from my partner, found myself without anywhere to live and couldn’t see my children. I couldn’t work as I wasn’t physically able to do the job and wasn’t in a position mentally or financially to start a building business again after going bankrupt. Since going to Artlift I have had several exhibitions of my work around Gloucester. I find that painting in the style that I do, in a very expressionistic way, seems to help me emotionally. I no longer take any medication and, although I am not without problems, I find that as long as I can paint I can cope. It doesn’t mean that depression has gone but I no longer have to keep going back to my GP for more anti-depressants, I just lock myself away and paint until I feel slightly better. I now mentor some people who have been through Artlift themselves and they come and use my studio a couple of times a week to get together, paint, draw and chat and I can see the benefit to them”.

The World Health Organization scoping review of 2019 synthesises evidence of the efficacy of the arts in preventing stress and anxiety and building self-esteem and self-confidence. A report to DCMS in April 2020 entitled Evidence Summary for Policy: The Role of Arts in Improving Health & Wellbeing, by Dr Daisy Fancourt of UCL et al, draws attention to

“a large literature of RCTs”— randomised controlled trials—

“on the treatment or management of mental illness through arts involvement”.

Creatively Minded, a Baring Foundation report of 2020, maps 170 examples of organisations running arts and mental health projects in the UK.

When the first lockdowns came in, Intermission Youth, a London-based charity, offered a range of online activities to support young people’s mental health, from festivals to drama workshops and even a full production of “The Tempest”. One participant said:

“The Tempest rehearsals have been my highlight. They allow me to work towards something. I see familiar faces. I create something practical. Even in a period of unknown, this has been a continuity, an anchor, which has given me structure”.

The engagement of the creative imagination is powerful not only in supporting people to recover from mental ill-health but in preventing it. The same applies to engagement with the natural environment. There is evidence that creative activities can prevent or alleviate symptoms of some of the chronic conditions that affect an ageing population and which are such a burden on the NHS. Music slows cognitive decline and alleviates symptoms of dementia.

Front-line staff, too, have needed additional support to sustain their mental health. At many hospitals around the country, arts teams have been supporting staff under immense strain during the pandemic. University College London Hospitals and the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, for example, have offered art clubs and choirs to keep people going. At UCLH, 86% of staff who took part said it had provided them with respite, and 97% said it was important that the sessions should continue.

My second point is that such cultural interventions are cost effective. A cost-benefit analysis of Artlift over three years showed that, after six months of working with an artist, people made 37% fewer demands for GP appointments and their need for hospital admissions dropped by 27%. It is much cheaper, through the employment of link workers to support GPs in making such referrals, to engage people suffering from loneliness, anxiety or depression in creative and social activity than to put them on medication or refer them to specialist psychological treatments.

Increasing numbers of ICS leaders are recognising how creative health approaches can valuably support the NHS. Let us make sure that, in framing this legislation, we guarantee appropriate opportunities for social prescribing and other non-clinical interventions to make the full contribution of which they are capable to benefiting both mental and physical health.

The department has commissioned research and funded the National Academy for Social Prescribing and the provision of 1,000 link workers. It is not clear, however, that the department, NHS England or the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities have fully grasped the potential of creative health or that they mean to normalise creative health approaches within their vision and policies. I look forward to the Minister’s assurance that the Government do indeed intend this and will design integrated care structures to this end.

Photo of Baroness Hollins Baroness Hollins Crossbench 5:30 pm, 11th January 2022

My Lords, I start by declaring my interests as a past president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a former consultant psychiatrist and clinical academic at St George’s, University of London. I thank Mencap and the Royal College of Psychiatrists in particular for the discussions I have had with them about this group of amendments.

I will not list all my amendments and those I am supporting in this group. I say to my noble friend that this is not just a spine-stiffener; it is a reminder, because we forget about mental health. We still forget to think about it and talk about it. One of the things I often do in my career is put my hand up and say, “By the way, what about mental health?” The noble Earl, Lord Howe, will remember the debate 10 years ago; I will come back to that.

The issues covered in these amendments are not new, because the World Health Organization definition of health is about a complete state of mental, physical and social well-being. It is not just about disease and infirmity. Noble Lords may not be aware—I heard this only recently—that a psychiatrist represented the United Kingdom at the first WHO meeting, which is probably one of the reasons why mental health was included at that stage.

These amendments would require the Secretary of State and all NHS organisations to prioritise physical, mental and social well-being. The idea is simply to replicate the parity of esteem duty as introduced in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. I re-read some of my speeches on that Bill, and I can see that I was persuaded to withdraw some amendments similar to those I am speaking to today. While a significant first step, that legislation ensured only that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care would promote parity of esteem. What we have seen since then is a better understanding of the importance of mental health and mental health services, but there is still a gulf between the financing and delivery of these two equally important services, with physical health continuing to dominate. Of course, they should not really be separate, because there is no health without mental health. Integration is fundamental; we debated that at length in 2011-12 too.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists referred me to data published by NHS Digital last year. In March 2021, there were more than 400,000 referrals to mental health services—the highest ever recorded in a calendar month, and 36% higher than the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. The pandemic has indeed shown us the importance of good mental health for the general population, including, of course, children and young people and health and care staff.

One of my amendments is on the duty of parity of esteem, and others insert “physical and mental” in multiple places to embed the fuller meaning of “health” in the Bill. I am grateful to noble Lords who are supporting this.

I want to focus on my Amendment 99, which places the duty to ensure parity of esteem at the integrated care system level. We cannot really leave it to chance; history tells us that this would lead to a suboptimal priority for mental health services. The duty that has been in place at national level for the Secretary of State has been so valuable that we can and should replicate it at a local level. Consider a recent survey by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in which two-thirds of respondents said that their ICS had not worked towards parity of esteem effectively. Fewer than one in 10 thought that their local area was effectively promoting parity of esteem.

But if a population health-based approach is core to ICSs’ planning and decision-making, I suggest that we need stronger legislative levers to support them to address mental health. Mental health is a key population need across the country. We cannot presently meet demand. No population health approach is complete without the inclusion of mental health, and yet we consistently see the imbalances in place. The new ICSs, bringing together commissioning and provision, could be a huge opportunity to get it right—or, certainly, a lot better—for mental health.

At present, there is no assurance in the Bill that mental health will be given equal precedence with physical health in integrated care systems or even by NHS England. My proposed duty for ICSs would help to ensure parity and repeat the success of the duty on the Secretary of State in the 2012 Act—not only that, but such a duty also increases focus at service level and would make sure that ICBs are looking closely at how they are providing for people at risk of or with a mental illness.

The trouble is that it is not easy to determine the best way to achieve this. As it stands, the Bill does not address parity at all. There are other similar amendments. Would putting this duty at the local level ensure that the next step in the battle for parity of esteem will be closer to the everyday experience of people who have struggled for far too long to access mental health services? Developing good integrated care cannot be just about meeting a person’s physical health. We must think more holistically about people’s psychological and social well-being, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Howarth.

Turning to the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Stevens, which would strengthen transparency in mental health spending, he has a unique insight into the NHS and could not be better placed to advise on what improvements are needed in funding of our mental health services, particularly in accountability and transparency. The resourcing of mental healthcare is one—admittedly, only one—indicator of whether we have a chance of meeting the need and, we hope, preventing illness developing in the first place. We know that change is needed. There have been improvements in financing mechanisms. My noble friend mentioned the mental health investment standard. This feels important in light of the most recent spending review, in which, although there was a large funding injection for the NHS, mental health seems to have lost out again.

One wonders whether anyone remembered to ask the Treasury for additional funding for mental health. Having worked in mental health for so long, perhaps I may be forgiven for suspecting that it may have been forgotten once more. Last year’s uplift for mental health due to the pressures of Covid-19 was welcome but it was non-recurrent and those pressures have not gone away. Recent estimates from different charities that I have spoken to suggest that the overall share spent on mental health could go down in the coming year. We need these amendments to the Bill to make it clear that only when the Government and the NHS genuinely have mental health at the forefront of their efforts and are truly committed to parity of esteem, even in difficult circumstances, will we make good on the purpose of the NHS when it comes to the needs of people with mental illness in our society.

Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative

My Lords, I am delighted to speak to this group of amendments, and I associate myself very closely with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins. I declare my interest in working for the Dispensing Doctors’ Association. I speak particularly to Amendment 263, in my name and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler of Enfield, and Amendment 138, in my name and those of the noble Baronesses, Lady Tyler, Lady Watkins of Tavistock and Lady Bennett of Manor Castle.

All of us are touched by knowing or learning of those who suffer from mental health problems, and I express my disappointment as well to see that there has been no parity of esteem or parity of funding between physical and mental health. I urge my noble friend the Minister, when responding, to give a commitment, in the context of the Bill, to ensure that the role of the ICS and the other bodies under the Bill will make this happen for the first time in reality.

There are particular issues, as I have seen closely, primarily as an MP but also previously as a shadow Minister. In rural areas, particularly in isolation and where there are pockets of poverty, poor mental health is suffered particularly by those on low incomes and pensioners. The farming community, especially in times of hardship, has great difficulty in communicating anxiety and mental stress. Undoubtedly, the current pandemic has taken its toll, not just in terms of self-isolation quarantine but because many businesses, particularly small businesses, have collapsed, often through no fault of those who set them up.

The background to Amendments 138 and 263 is very closely associated with that of the others in this group. I thank and pay tribute to the excellent work of Anne Marie Morris, who moved these in the other place and is chair of the All-Party Group on Rural Health. I commend her work in this regard. As has been indicated, Governments of all persuasions over recent years have spoken regularly about their desire to achieve parity of esteem between mental and physical health, including in the NHS 10-year plan. However, for this to be meaningful, there must be a legal obligation in the Bill to that effect, supported by reporting mechanisms on inputs to the mental health system, in terms of money, people trained and training places, as well as outputs resulting, including the number of mental health appointments or services made available, uptake of those appointments and the outcomes—namely, the number of patients discharged from care.

Amendments 138 and 263 seek to identify whether current policy and inputs are working in promoting this long sought-after parity of esteem. They also help us identify any ICSs that are particularly falling behind in their efforts. It is hoped that this will be an encouragement to step up and improve. Amendment 138 seeks for the new clause to require the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to make an annual statement on how the funding received by mental health services in that year from the overall annual allotment has contributed to the improvement of mental health and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Equally, Amendment 263 would require an ICB to report on assessing and meeting parity of physical and mental health outcomes. That report would be key in establishing their success.

I hope that my noble friend the Minister will confirm when summing up that this is a one-off opportunity finally to reach parity of esteem between physical and mental health outcomes and that we must have them in the Bill.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green 5:45 pm, 11th January 2022

My Lords, I rise as a member of the general public who can barely tell the difference between paracetamol and ibuprofen but does know, after all my years observing people, that people in good mental health often exhibit much better physical health as well, because they have more resilience, they are more aware of their physical health and they take measures to make themselves healthier. Parity of esteem is a beautiful concept because it does not sound competitive and the more we spend on mental health, the less we might have to spend on physical health. Therefore, it is a no-brainer. I am astonished that the Government did not put it in the Bill when it is such a well-known concept. I very much hope that the Minister will—[Interruption.] That was a Tory intervention and now there is a Labour intervention.

I understand that this is a huge challenge, but it is just smart, quite honestly. It offers us a chance to make a real positive change—a societal change for people. I also very much support Amendment 5 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, and all the subsequent changes through the Bill, and Amendment 138, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, which my noble friend Lady Bennett has also signed. I look forward to subsequent discussion with the Minister on this issue.

Photo of Baroness Tyler of Enfield Baroness Tyler of Enfield Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I rise to speak to the rather large list of amendments in this group—15 at the last count—to which my name is attached. I declare my interests as laid out in the register, particularly my new registered interest as a non-executive director of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Before turning to specific amendments, I have a couple of general points which apply across the board. The first concerns the scale of demand. Despite welcome investment and greater focus in recent years on mental health, there are now an estimated 1.6 million people waiting to access mental health services and so on a waiting list, and prevalence data suggests that some 8 million people with emerging mental health issues would benefit from services if they were able to meet the thresholds to access them.

Frankly, there are still too many instances of mental health services not being prioritised, such as the lack of investment in the mental health estate, which has a real impact on the trust’s ability to ensure both a safe and, particularly, a therapeutic environment. Also, the Prime Minister’s announcement on investment in new hospitals almost entirely overlooked the needs of mental health trusts.

The second general point is that the need to replicate the parity of esteem duty in the 2012 Bill throughout this Bill is more important than ever at a time when there is growing unmet need across multiple areas of health and care. Local health systems therefore face difficult choices around the allocation of resources. The full mental health impact of the pandemic is still emerging but mental health trust leaders report extraordinary pressures; in particular, a high proportion of children and young people not previously known to services are coming forward for treatment, often more unwell and with more complex problems.

The various amendments in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and my noble friend Lady Walmsley to which I have attached my name, and which I strongly support, recognise the important role that NHS England, ICBs, NHS trusts and foundation trusts will each have in advancing parity of esteem between mental and physical health. It will be important that amendments to the Bill that explicitly require the prioritisation of both physical and mental health are made at each level of the system. Simply put, trusts’ ability to prioritise both physical and mental health is crucially dependent on the extent to which integrated care boards and NHS England do the same. Ultimately, of course, each level in the system’s ability to meet this requirement is reliant on the Government prioritising both physical and mental health.

I will turn briefly to various sets of amendments. As I have said, a lot of these amendments are about explicitly including mental health on the face of the Bill, at each level and relating specifically to the NHS triple aim. I want to explain why that is important. As I said, Section 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 enshrined in law a duty for the Secretary of State to secure parity of esteem between mental and physical health services. While the new Bill does not remove the duty from the Secretary of State, it fails to replicate it in the triple aim, and this sends out an unhelpful message. I fully accept that culture change needs far more than legislation but legislation can and does send an important signal, which is why we need parity of esteem strengthened throughout the Bill.

We know that the burden of mental illness in the UK far outstrips spend and that referrals to mental health services were at a peak during the pandemic. Thus, I strongly support the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and my noble friend Lady Walmsley which explicitly reference mental health in parts of the Bill setting out how the triple aim applies to trusts, foundation trusts, integrated care boards, NHS England and the licensing of healthcare providers. This would ensure that the whole of the NHS is aware of its duties around parity of esteem.

I turn briefly now to what is happening at the local level. A recent survey by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that almost two-thirds of responding psychiatrists considered that their local area had been ineffective in working towards parity of esteem, and fewer than one in 10 said that their local area was effectively promoting parity. That is why each ICB should be required to promote parity; it should be included in their forward plans and they should be required to report on it as part of their annual reports. This would help transparency and help to hold the system to account; that is why I have added my name to the amendments from the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, and strongly support a separate amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, which calls for a duty on ICBs to promote and seek parity of esteem between physical and mental health and, critically, to annually report on their efforts to do so.

I come now to the Secretary of State’s responsibilities in all this. Having the parity of esteem in the 2012 Act has helped to secure welcome and important initiatives, such as the five-year forward view for mental health and the review of the Mental Health Act. Amendment 263 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, to which my name is attached, builds on this duty and requires the Secretary of State to outline to Parliament how the resourcing of mental health services and prevention efforts have ultimately improved care for people with mental illness and those at risk of developing poor mental health. This will bring further and much needed parliamentary scrutiny to this issue, and help us understand how we can build on current efforts to improve care and, most importantly, improve outcomes.

I turn finally to Amendments 5, 12 and 136, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, regarding the funding of mental health. Of course, financing is one of the most important indicators of parity of esteem—if it is real—and legal teeth to ensure clarity on it are absolutely critical. As I highlighted earlier, even with recent efforts, spending on mental health is not commensurate with the burden of mental illness in this country. Indeed, a King’s Fund analysis recently found that mental health outcomes accounted for 23% of the burden of ill health in the UK but received only 11% of spend for both prevention and treatment.

The Government’s recent spending review did not specifically allocate any additional funding for mental health services, despite over £44 billion being pumped into the NHS over the course of the spending review and services facing increased and sustained pressure. The mental health sector has made it clear that it will need to cut services from April 2022 if additional funding is not received. The noble Lord, Lord Stevens, is very well placed to know the right mechanisms and levers to pull to ensure improvements in how we fund mental health services, and how different parts of the system are held accountable for their efforts to do so.

These three amendments, which build on the mental health investment standard—something I very much welcomed at the time—at a local level for ICBs, adding an additional legislative lever and helping to increase overall transparency on how local areas fund mental health services, are extremely important. Finally, at national level, I strongly support the need for greater transparency for both the Government’s intentions on mental health spending and NHS England’s response to, and meeting of, these intentions.

While we often hear encouraging and warm words of support on mental health from the Government—and they are welcome—these amendments would make clear where those words have been put into action. As the old saying goes, what gets measured gets done.

Photo of Lord Patel Lord Patel Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Lords), Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Lords)

My Lords, I will speak to the amendments in the name of my noble friend Lady Hollins. I have put my name to several of her amendments and I will speak to them all but, before I do so, I pay a very special tribute to her. For decades now, she has fought hard to improve the care of people with mental health and learning disabilities. Any progress that has been made has been to her credit, and any progress that we may help to make will not be ours but hers. We should try to help her.

On 8 February 2012, this House voted to put into legislation that mental health should be given parity of esteem with physical health. It was the only amendment of the 2012 Act that was carried, by a very narrow margin, as the then coalition Government had a big enough majority in both Houses. I remember apologising to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, who was the Minister taking the Bill through the House, for moving the amendment—I do not know why. He looked pretty confident, as he should have been because I was not confident; but I had moved the amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lady Hollins because it was her amendment. It just so happened that she was not able to be here; she was advising the Vatican at the time. Despite that, and to give credit to initiatives by NHS England and other NHS bodies, progress has been made—but it has been slow.

I declare an interest. I hold an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which I am very proud of. In my time as a high-risk obstetrician, unfortunately, I had to look after women who suffered from severe puerperal depression and I can testify to how serious a mental condition it is.

The mental health sector faces many challenges, from growing demand and staff recruitment and retention to meeting investment standards set by commissioners that it cannot meet. Many of the challenges are rooted in the historical disadvantage suffered by the mental health sector compared with physical health provision, and the stigma attached to it. Although support is growing, the sector still operates in the context of a care deficit, which means it is accepted that not all those needing help and treatment will be able to access it. We as a society accept that. We would not accept it if it were cancer, heart disease, hypertension or anything else, but we accept that people with mental health conditions may not get the care.

The way mental health is funded, commissioned and paid for leads to the sector’s structural disadvantage. Unless this is addressed, mental health will not have parity of esteem with physical health. There is an important point to make in terms of aspirations around meeting the needs of those with mental health problems which do not apply to physical health, and the Government accept that. For example, the aspiration is to increase access for only 35% of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition by 2021. That time has come and gone and we have not met even the 35%. To say that we as a society accept that only 35% of children and young people with a diagnosable condition will be able to be cared for is like saying to cancer patients, “Yes, we know you have cancer, but I am sorry, you do not fit the 35% that we are going to treat.” How can that be right?

The Government’s own figures suggest that, a decade after the scheme was launched, only 15% of children will be able to access these services. Apart from lack of access to care services, mental health trusts are also in need of capital investment. Mental health trust hospitals are in a pretty poor condition. Many have reported serious patient safety issues, with poor infrastructure, yet government plans to fund new-build hospitals do not include any in the mental health sector. The Covid-19 pandemic has further added to the pressure on mental health services, with the full impact still to come. It is a worry that more children and young people are presenting with mental health problems directly related to the pandemic, or so paediatricians are reporting.

The need for reinstating parity of esteem for mental health is even more important now than ever before, with increasing levels of complex mental health needs, growing unmet needs and a pandemic that has affected the young and healthcare workers—and we do not yet know what the mental health effects will be on those who have recovered and are suffering from long Covid health effects. It is therefore right that the Bill reinforces the need for NHS England, ICBs, trusts and foundation trusts to all have a statutory duty upon them to work towards achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health. In my view, the issue is far too important to miss the opportunity to have it on the face of the Bill. I hope the noble Earl, Lord Howe, will not rely on a vote this time, but will accept the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Hollins, to which I have added my name. If the Minister is minded not to, I hope that, at the appropriate time, my noble friend will seek the view of the House. I will support her.

Photo of The Bishop of London The Bishop of London Bishop 6:00 pm, 11th January 2022

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords who have tabled the amendments in this group. I am very aware of the expertise that exists within this Chamber. As we have heard, mental health has not always been funded in the same way as physical health. However, we have seen improvements, not least in the way we speak about our own mental well-being. We have seen a reduction in stigma and an improvement in services, but the pandemic has taught us that there is a huge unmet need around mental health, and I suspect we will not know the full impact of the pandemic for a number of years. Clearly, those groups of people requiring support around their mental health will include us and our children as well as our health and social care workers.

I am aware that in our churches, we do a lot, like other faith communities and other community groups, to support people’s mental health and enable their mental well-being to flourish, not least through our faith activities and our worship. Churches put on many activities, such as dementia cafés; we make available our outdoor spaces for people to undertake gardening to improve their mental well-being; we do walking; we reduce loneliness and isolation, to name just a few. But we are aware that we are not mental health professionals. We walk with people, often in the early stages of mental illness or while they are waiting for referral, and what those within our churches know is that the length of waiting is getting longer. The wait for access to mental health services, particularly talking therapies, has got much longer.

The noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, mentioned the figures; we see the personal impact of that, as people’s lives are put into great crisis and they struggle. Not least, it brings stress to their family and friends, and it impacts on their ability to earn. As has already been said, it impacts on their physical health as well. I recognise that we have increased our determination to ensure that there is parity between physical and mental health funding but I believe we require legislative levers to make this happen. Therefore, I support particularly Amendments 5, 12 and 136 as well as Amendment 99. As we have already said, we need legislative levers at every level to address this parity. My belief is that this will contribute to not just the mental well-being of the community but its physical well-being.

Photo of Lord Crisp Lord Crisp Crossbench

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the right reverend Prelate, a former esteemed colleague, and I had better follow her and the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, in declaring an interest as a former chief executive of the NHS in England—as opposed to NHS England—as Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and as an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I support most of the amendments in this group and shall speak particularly about Amendments 5, 12 and 136, about expenditure, and Amendments 91, 92 and 99, about parity of esteem and ICSs.

The most telling comment, I think, from my noble friend Lady Hollins was when she said that mental health is too often forgotten. It is a really sad point. I am struck, when I look through the amendments we are considering today, how the legislation is trying to catch up with where we have got to as a society and how we think about health. It is obvious with mental health. I thought the great speech by the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, emphasising the role of the nonclinical—the people outside the health system and their role in health—and of salutogenesis, the creation of health, not just pathogenesis, the dealing with disease, was really impressive. The other area where this is very obvious is where we are going to come to in a bit, talking about inequalities in a later group.

This is very much part of the new agenda, but it is interesting that we still have the overhang of what I think of as the 20th-century model of healthcare, which is about the acute sector, not the primary sector; it is an NHS focus; it is about doing things to people, rather than with people; and it is about illness. This Bill is, in a way, the first health Bill of the 21st century and it is really important that it sends out some very clear messages and that so many of these amendments can be picked up to make sure those messages are sent out very clearly.

I will pick up the detail very briefly. Amendments 5, 12 and 136 from my noble friend Lord Stevens of Birmingham on measuring and increasing expenditure on mental health—or at least showing the Government’s hand and revealing what they are expecting—and, later, the monitoring of it are fundamental. However, let me put in a caveat: they are pretty blunt. They are imperfect, because they are about inputs rather than outcomes and outputs, thinking of some of the things we talked about earlier. They can also be gamed.

Also, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, said, physical and mental health are not distinct; actually, most people in civil society treat mental and physical health at the same time, so there will be some arbitrary distinctions. I remind noble Lords, as we all know very well, that there is a major problem for many patients with mental health problems in trying to access help with their physical health. As Professor Sir Graham Thornicroft has said, mental health diseases are killer diseases, because people die earlier—sometimes because of that impact on physical health.

These are imperfect measures. However, I support them as a blunt instrument for offering steering and pushing the system the right way. They are a real measure that will help bring about change and they should be supported at the macro level.

Amendments 91, 92 and 99 are about achieving parity of esteem within the integrated care systems, and it is right that they are broader based, because people have to make choices at a local level about what they are doing. It is really important that the planners on those boards take full account of mental health and achieve parity of esteem across the whole spectrum, from levels of investment right the way through to ensuring that people with mental health problems can access physical healthcare when they need it. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, reminded us, in 1948 the first meeting of the World Health Assembly defined health as being about

“physical, mental and social well-being”.

It is time we got back to that.

I applaud these amendments and very much hope that the Minister will indicate the Government’s support for a much bigger emphasis on mental health in supporting these and other amendments.

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Crossbench

My Lords, I support these amendments, particularly Amendments 5, 12 and 136, so powerfully spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham.

As a kind of self-appointed historian to this Committee, I will take us back to 2005-06. There was a massive public consultation, leading to the White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say. A thousand people of diverse socioeconomic and age backgrounds gathered in Birmingham to vote on what the public thought were the top priorities for the NHS. Much to the shock of the six members of the ministerial team—including me—who attended that event, and the top management of what was then the Department of Health, led by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, the public were several decades ahead of the political, managerial and clinical decision-makers of our revered NHS.

It has taken us a really long time to catch up. We have moved since then through a period in which, with great rhetoric, we have inserted into legislation a desire for parity of esteem between physical and mental health. However, no one of any political party has had the temerity to do what the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, has done in suggesting we should actually put our money where our mouth is. It simply has not been done.

The NHS, in my experience, is quite strong on doing things if you give it money. If we do not start putting into the allocations some requirements to at least level up, as the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, says, we will make no progress whatever with our rhetoric. I strongly support these amendments and hope the Government will listen very carefully to this House. I, for one, will be quite happy to march into any Lobby in support of amendments which give some financial equality of recognition to the needs of those with mental health problems.

While I am on my feet, I mention a group which is neglected even within the mental health set-up—those with autism. It is one of the great disgraces of this country that we have such poor arrangements for diagnosing young people, particularly girls, with autism. We need to do a better job of putting our money where our mouth is on that subject.

Photo of Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Deputy Chairman of Committees 6:15 pm, 11th January 2022

My Lords, I support the majority of these amendments. I declare my interests as president of the Florence Nightingale Foundation and chair of the HEE review of mental health nursing.

A lot of noble Lords have spoken about mental health in the most glowing terms in the last hour. I am extremely supportive of the amendments in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and our new Member, the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham. I have put my name to Amendment 138 on keeping proper data and information on waiting lists for people not with mental health issues but mental illness problems. There are people in our country with severe, enduring mental illness who fail to get early diagnosis because they do not even get on to a waiting list to see a consultant.

I see many of these people in my work with the charitable social enterprise I chair, Look Ahead, which provides housing to people who have suffered homelessness, people with mental health problems and learning disabilities and those discharged from prison—having completed their sentence, I should say. So many of those people have had better mental health care in prison than they ever had in society, because we do not list the number of people trying to access these services. We know that the life expectancy of people with long-term mental health problems is so much lower than that of the majority of people with physical health problems, because of things such as drug-induced psychosis, if it is not treated quickly. Professor Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry has been talking about this since I did my PhD there, 30 years ago, and we have still not resolved it.

I emphasise, as an ordinary person who works and has spent nearly 40 years working on a day-to-day basis either training mental health nurses or working with people with severe enduring mental illness, that these amendments are essential if we are to provide good health services for tomorrow’s population.

Photo of Baroness Harding of Winscombe Baroness Harding of Winscombe Conservative

My Lords, I too support this group of amendments, both the parity of esteem words and the funding actions that make it up. I will briefly address the possible objections to it: first, it is not necessary because the Secretary of State already has a duty to maintain parity of esteem; secondly, as I think the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, mentioned, this is culture change and legislation cannot drive that. In this case, actions speak louder than words. Being clear on the financial actions, as the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, are, is a hugely important step on our culture journey.

Even though actions speak louder than words, the words matter too. They particularly matter when, as so many noble Lords have said so eloquently, mental health is so easily forgotten. It is all too easy to forget the hidden pain, anguish and need. I fear it is still far too easy to forget the hidden waiting lists. The words in this group of amendments are just as important as the actions, to make sure that we do not forget and build on the ground-breaking work that many, like the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, have led for decades. We are on that journey, but we are definitely not there. I urge my noble friend to consider and accept these amendments.

Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Co-Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers

My Lords, a duty to establish parity of esteem between physical and mental health was, of course, inserted into the Health and Social Care Act 2012 at the instigation of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins—if I remember rightly, we on these Benches were right behind her. That is not reflected in this Bill, as she said, despite the fact that the importance of addressing mental health issues has been so amply demonstrated by the rise of these problems during the Covid pandemic. The shortage of services to address them is of great concern—services which were already under stress before the pandemic started because of underfunding over many years.

Although the insertion of parity of esteem into the 2012 Act was welcome and significant, no legislation is enough without the resources in cash and people to make it happen. They have not been forthcoming in the amounts needed to match the growing demand. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and my noble friend Lady Tyler, I too have heard concerns in the sector that the share of resources that are currently available might be cut over the next three years under the Government’s plans.

The situation is not good. Waiting lists, particularly for children and young people, have been growing. I understand that the average waiting time for a young person for a first appointment is something like 13 weeks and 18 weeks to get to a referral for treatment. It is a bit of a postcode lottery, because some young people get there quite quickly and some wait a very long time. The noble Lord, Lord Warner, is absolutely right that it takes a great deal longer for those waiting for a diagnosis of autism.

According to research from the Resolution Foundation, in 2000, 24% of 18 to 24 year-olds had a common mental disorder. That was the lowest rate of any age group at that time. By 2018-19, that figure had grown to 30% and, astonishingly, by April 2020 it was up to 51%. So, as we set up the new integrated care system, it is essential that we restate the equivalence of mental and physical health. We know, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, so eloquently reminded us, that each affects the other, but it is not enough to assume that that is understood in this legislation. It must be clearly stated in both Clause 16 and Clause 20, where the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, seeks to add it to the duty of the ICSs to secure improvement in the quality of services. We support her, of course.

Perhaps at this point I will mention my little amendments in this group. Amendments 48 and 49 are two of those little amendments that would insert the words “physical or mental” illness into Clause 16, which specifies a list of health provision that the ICB must make for its population. Other noble Lords would insert similar amendments into other places in the Bill. I support all of them.

Amendment 76 would also insert parity of esteem into new Section 14Z38 in Clause 20, which refers to the duty to obtain appropriate advice. We put it there to emphasise the fact that mental health is a very specialised area, and often very good advice can be obtained from small community or not-for-profit social enterprises that deliver mental health services in the community where people work and live, often to very marginalised groups. Large organisations such as an ICS might very easily overlook such good advice about what is needed and where to put it. I support the amendment spoken to by my noble friend Lady Tyler that the triple aim must become a quadruple aim. Mental health needs to go right at the core of what we are trying to achieve.

There is an enormous and growing number of people in the country with poor mental health. The NHS cannot just treat its way out of the problem. There needs to be more focus on public mental health, much of which is addressed by the small community groups I just mentioned, the role of which we will deal with later with Amendment 148 and others. But without the specific acceptance of the parity of esteem duty in the Bill, there is a danger that the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental ill-health will continue to take a back seat. It must be in the statute.

Photo of Lord Kakkar Lord Kakkar Crossbench

My Lords, I support the objectives of this group of very important amendments. In so doing, I remind noble Lords of my interests as chairman of the King’s Fund and of King’s Health Partners. I have seen this work directly in King’s Health Partners through a programme defined as Mind & Body, which proposes to promote pathways of care across the entirety of our health economy that look in equal measure at physical and mental health for all patients, irrespective of their principal clinical presentation. Initiatives such as that important programme could be brought to fruition only because of the emphasis in the 2012 Act regarding parity for physical and mental health. It demonstrates very clearly that legislative intervention can have a profound impact. I very much join in congratulating my noble friend Lady Hollins on her relentless commitment to these issues in your Lordships’ House over the past 10 years, which have had and will continue to have a profound impact.

It therefore seems counterintuitive for Her Majesty’s Government, in bringing forward this important legislation, to move away from the opportunity to emphasise the importance of this parity. Is it sensible to move away from this position? Why not use the opportunity afforded by this important legislation to emphasise once again the importance of parity between mental and physical health in every respect—not only funding but the organisation and supervision of services and the construction of organisations within the NHS—so that, step by step, we can achieve what every Member of your Lordships’ Committee who has spoken in this debate has emphasised?

Will the Minister, in replying to the debate, reassure your Lordships that not proceeding with these amendments does not undermine what has been achieved so far and that what is proposed in the Bill can without the amendments achieve the continued momentum and concentration of focus on this vital issue, to ensure that we continue not only to develop mental health services but to ensure that they can be integrated more broadly into physical health, and that physical health services can be developed to ensure that the mental health consequences of physical conditions can also be appropriately addressed? In taking this holistic approach, we will achieve the objectives of better well-being and health for all our fellow citizens—one of the most important aspects of the triple aim.

Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, I should declare my interests as having worked with liaison psychiatry extensively in the cancer centre in Cardiff, and as chair of the National Mental Capacity Forum for England and Wales.

One group that has not been mentioned yet—I appreciate the noble Lord, Lord Warner, mentioning some—is those with impaired capacity and learning difficulties. We should not underestimate the importance of access to psychiatry for those people who develop mental health problems as a result of their physical health problems. To view the two as separate is a fallacy because they are completely integrated in many people. Many people present initially with a physical illness but develop mental health problems which, if ignored, become really major. The opposite also occurs, of course. Those people with learning difficulties and impaired capacity at different levels often have a raft of quite serious physical medical conditions that might be particularly difficult to diagnose because their mental health problems get in the way of their ability to express themselves.

If we are really to drive up the health of the nation at all, we would be completely misguided to ignore the importance of this group of amendments. Like others, I urge the Government to grasp this nettle, put this in the Bill and make sure we finally address this severe imbalance, which has left so many people never accessing the care they need. That applies both to mental health care and to those with mental health difficulties who then fail to access the physical healthcare support they need because they just cannot express their needs properly.

Photo of Baroness Merron Baroness Merron Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Health and Social Care), Shadow Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 6:30 pm, 11th January 2022

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.

Photo of Lord Kamall Lord Kamall The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

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.

That is why, in line with the World Health Organization guidelines, the current references in the Bill to “illness” and “health” already cover mental and physical health. Therefore, while we agree with the principle behind these amendments, we do not think they are necessary. In fact, they could possibly be counterproductive as they could impact the interpretation of those terms in other pieces of legislation.

For example, Amendment 58 inserts “physical and mental” before illness within the proposed Section 14Z34 of the National Health Service Act 2006. However, Section 275 of that Act, which is an interpretation section, defines illness to include both mental and physical illness. That definition flows through into the references to illness in the National Health Service Act 2006 and will include the clauses this Bill inserts into that Act.

In one of my previous careers, I was the head of research at an economic think tank, and I was always fascinated by the unintended consequences that can follow good intentions. One of the unintended consequences we have to be careful of is that the amendments could risk creating discrepancies within other pieces of legislation where there are not explicit references to physical and mental health but where health is currently considered to include both elements implicitly. It could be interpreted that where mental health is not mentioned in those other pieces of legislation, those who have to abide by that do not give it due concern because it is not explicitly mentioned and therefore will do so only where it is explicitly mentioned. Of course, we could go through the statute book and make sure that we tried to amend all that legislation, but I wanted to reassure noble Lords that when we look at health, in terms of the World Health Organization guidelines, that includes both mental and physical health.

For clarity, NHS England will publish statutory and non-statutory guidance to ensure that NHS bodies, including integrated care boards, are clear about their responsibilities for both mental and physical health, echoing the Secretary of State’s duty in Section 1(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006.

On Amendment 99, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, I welcome her interest in ensuring parity again and to reduce inequalities and improve quality, access and outcomes for patients. Integrated care boards must already have regard to the need to reduce inequalities both in access and outcomes for patients under the proposed Section 14Z35 of the National Health Service Act 2006. There are also duties on NHS England, in Section 13E of the 2006 Act, and on ICBs, in new Section 14Z34, to act with a view to securing continuous improvement in the quality of services, including the outcomes that are achieved from the provision of these services which apply to both mental health and physical health services.

The duties on inequalities and improving quality of services must form part of the forward plan the ICBs develop with their partner trusts and foundation trusts in their annual report to NHS England. In exercising their commissioning functions under the proposed new Sections 3 and 3A of the National Health Service Act 2006, ICBs must act consistently with the Secretary of State’s duty to promote a comprehensive health service in England, to improve mental as well as physical health. This also applies to securing improvement in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental illness. ICBs, like clinical commissioning groups before them, will be expected to report on how they have discharged their commissioning functions and will be assessed by NHS England. Furthermore, both have duties to promote and have regard to the NHS constitution, which explicitly recognises parity of esteem.

Amendment 138 in the name of my noble friend Lady McIntosh would require an ICB to report on assessing and meeting parity of physical and mental health outcomes. I hope I can assure her that the reporting and accountability arrangements we already have in place fully meet this need. By virtue of Section 1(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006, the Secretary of State has a duty to promote a comprehensive health service in England designed to secure improvement in the physical and mental health of the people of England and once again in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental illness.

In line with this duty, the Secretary of State, through the mandate to NHS England for 2021-22, has set an expectation that the NHS will seek to treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health. The Secretary of State also has a legal duty to keep progress in meeting mandate objectives under review. NHS England and NHS Improvement regularly report on the agreed metrics for the Government’s review. They also have strong governance mechanisms in place to monitor both physical and mental health spend and service delivery. Furthermore, considerable data is already published, including via the NHS mental health dashboard.

It is also important to note that a direct comparison between mental health and physical health services through standardised measures can be difficult and sometimes of limited value, as there are some key differences in how and when patients need to access them. However, while these differences must be recognised, and measured accordingly, as I have already outlined I strongly agree that they should be treated with equal seriousness and focus to ensure that the best care is provided, regardless of the nature of the health condition. To introduce a further reporting mechanism on ICBs and the Secretary of State would increase the bureaucratic burden, as the measures mentioned are a rudimentary measure of treatment numbers and not a true measure of parity of esteem.

Amendment 263, also tabled by my noble friend Lady McIntosh, would require the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament a report on how funding to NHS England has supported improvements in mental health illnesses. Over recent years, funding for mental health services has increased. Across local CCGs—including learning disabilities and dementia—and NHS England specialised commissioning, it has reached £14.3 billion in 2020-21, up from £13.2 billion in 2019-20. Further to this, under the NHS long-term plan, mental health services are set to continue to receive a growing share of the NHS budget, with funding to grow by at least £2.3 billion by 2023-24.

As I have set out, the Secretary of State already has a duty to promote a comprehensive health service that considers physical and mental health. I reiterate that, through the mandate to NHS England, it must seek to treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health. The Secretary of State has a legal duty to ensure this. I hope that this will reassure noble Lords somewhat that we take this seriously.

Let me conclude by discussing the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Hollins, Lady Merron and Lady Tyler, relating to the mental health investment standard. Amendment 5 would require the Government to state in the mandate to NHS England whether it must ensure that expenditure on mental health services increases as a proportion of overall NHS revenue expenditure in the period covered by the mandate. I understand the concern that there should be appropriate clarity and transparency in our expectations in respect of mental health funding. However, I believe that this already exists: a mental health investment standard is in place that expects CCGs, and in future ICBs, to ensure that their spending on mental health grows at least in line with the growth in their overall funding allocations. Performance against the mental health investment standard is monitored via the mental health dashboard, which NHS England publishes quarterly and will continue to do so. The mental health dashboard also brings together key data from across mental health services to measure the performance of the NHS in delivering the long-term plan for mental health. I can confirm that, in 2020-21, all CCGs met the standard.

Amendment 12 would require NHS England to produce and lay a report before Parliament disclosing whether, during the previous financial year, funding for mental health services had grown as a share of total NHS revenue expenditure. Amendment 136 would also require each ICB to disclose in its annual report whether, during the previous year, its funding for mental health services grew as a share of its overall revenue expenditure. We fully support the sentiment of increased focus on mental health spending, and I pay tribute to the work of noble Lords across your Lordships’ House in driving change. However, once again I hope I can assure them that the reporting and accountability arrangements we have in place already ensure that mental health investment is a priority for this Government and NHS England, and will be for ICBs in the future.

First, considerable data is already published, as I have mentioned, including on mental health spending. We are concerned that to introduce a further financial reporting mechanism on NHS England or ICBs would be unnecessary, as mechanisms for tracking growth in funding already exist through the mental health dashboard. To strengthen this reporting, NHS England and NHS Improvement required CCGs to commission and publish an independent review of their reported spend against the mental health investment standard in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Due to Covid pressures in the last year, that will not be reviewed. However, NHS England and NHS Improvement will again require CCGs, and in future ICBs, to publish independent reviews for 2021-22.

Having said all that, I have heard the passion and strength of feeling from noble Lords across the House. I want to reassure all noble Lords that I will continue to reflect carefully on the specific points raised in the amendments and in the debate today. I would be happy to meet noble Lords to discuss their ideas and proposals further. I hope that we can find some agreement. I thank your Lordships for the thoughtful debate on this important subject. I hope I have reassured noble Lords that this Government are committed to delivering parity of esteem between physical and mental health. In our conversations between this stage and Report, I hope that we can seek to reduce that gap in understanding. For these reasons, I ask noble Lords to consider withdrawing or not pressing their amendments.

Photo of Lord Stevens of Birmingham Lord Stevens of Birmingham Crossbench 6:45 pm, 11th January 2022

I thank the Minister for that careful response. Across the Committee, we have all obviously heard the breadth and depth of concern for the issues surfaced through these amendments. It is obviously for other noble Lords to infer this for themselves, but my sense is that these were not simply exploratory or probing amendments but, significantly, amendments with a view towards testing the view of the House on whether we can change the wording in the Bill itself. That is obviously not a matter for tonight, but I anticipate that we will return to some of these issues, perhaps on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 5.

Amendment 5 withdrawn.

Photo of Baroness Hollins Baroness Hollins Crossbench

My Lords, I would just like to make a comment about my amendments. I want to accept the Minister’s offer to meet and to think about the best legislative levers. I think the mood of the House is that there should be some progress on this.

House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 8.37 pm.