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 Warner Lord Warner Crossbench 6:00 pm, 11th January 2022

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.