Amendment 5

Part of Health and Care Bill - Committee (Day 1) – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 11th January 2022.

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Photo of Lord Crisp Lord Crisp Crossbench 6:00 pm, 11th January 2022

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.