Amendment 18

Health and Care Bill - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 13th January 2022.

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Baroness Thornton:

Moved by Baroness Thornton

18: Clause 7, page 4, line 18, at end insert—“(5) Assistance or support provided under this section to a person or organisation which is not an NHS body or representative of an NHS body, may only be provided after consultation with the relevant integrated care board and integrated care partnership.”Member’s explanatory statementThis provides that the relevant ICB and ICP must be consulted before assistance is provided to bodies other than NHS bodies. It aims to ensure a transparent process where private providers are provided with assistance.

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

My Lords, I will address the amendments in what is now group 4, commencing with Amendment 18 in my name, which address the various ways in which the board of an ICB should be constituted. I thank the noble Lords who have supported the amendments in my name and will speak also to Amendments 28 and 37.

Amendment 18 covers who should be on the board and, crucially, who should not. These amendments are about the governance of ICBs. They are going to be very powerful bodies—they are already operating in a shadow way, as it were—which will allocate hundreds of millions of pounds of public funds on our behalf. The question is about who should have a seat at the table where the decisions are taken. We should perhaps begin with who should not be on an ICB. There appears to be agreement that private sector interests should not be permitted, so I see no point in repeating the debates that took place in the Commons because that principle has already been settled. However, as ever, the devil is in the detail of how that translates into legislation and the ICB constitutions. It is my belief that what is in the Bill so far is not strong enough.

The objective is that private providers cannot have any part in decisions about how NHS resources are allocated or how contracts are placed. In my other amendments, I have extended the scope of this to ban GPs with APMS contracts, as they are definitely private sector interests. How someone from a social enterprise or the voluntary sector might be regarded is an issue to address sensibly, and I very much welcome that the Minister has said on several occasions that he believes that a margin of flexibility will be needed to make that happen. We all know that there is a single example of someone from Virgin Care being on a non-statutory non-decision-making ICS, one out of the 42 ICBs and one person on a body with 20-odd other members. That is still one too many. It is the principle that matters.

Private providers are bound essentially and legally to be addressing shareholder value, which is absolutely right and as it should be for their particular business interests, but they are not the values that underpin the NHS, which is absolutely not about striving for profit and shareholder value in any way. That is not to say that the NHS at every level should not strive for value for taxpayers’ money and effectiveness, but the best service for patients and communities is surely the underpinning objective of our NHS and it should be that for ICBs. Nor is it saying that the NHS should not be commissioning or working with a variety of providers, but we need to safeguard those values and the social value that underpin the NHS.

In the Commons this has been debated and Ministers are on the record about their intention not to have private providers represented. Sadly, some of us are still sceptical. This is particularly so when one looks at the easing of the 2012 commissioning and procurement regime. I await with interest the Minister’s reply on this matter. In making appointments to ICBs we are clear that there should be some kind of test so that if someone has something in their background which a reasonable person might think makes them unreasonably favourable or disposed to the use of private providers within the NHS, then they have no role on an ICB. I suspect that one might have to see, when the Bill finally takes effect as an Act, that those tests might be brought to bear on some of the ICS/ICB chairs and non-executive directors who may fail it.

The ICBs have similar duties to the CCGs they replace, at least on paper, but the board of an ICB will be very different from the CCG GPs and sometimes, it has to be said, the rather ad hoc arrangements that existed there. ICBs will be much closer to the unitary board model of trusts, FTs and the PCTs of recent memory. We agree with the intention of more effective commissioning of health services in the new era of co-operation and collaboration and with better integration with related services, so there should be a new kind of board made up of fewer NHS insiders and more who may have a wider perspective and fit better into the new model and the aspirations of the Bill.

We have had what feels like a dozen different ways of making commissioning work, and I have been directly involved in some. My observation is that as soon as they look like they are starting to work, they get reorganised. The trouble has always been the split between commissioners and providers, which some may say is essentially bogus. Both bits are still core NHS, and the big trusts have massive influence because they are massive. There is no democratic accountability, and the big providers had all the clout, not the commissioners. The NHS commissioning operation is often in splendid isolation from the rest of the public services, disconnected even from social care, to say nothing of where primary and community care and public health come in. This Bill aspires to be different, so we need to look at how it is served differently by the ICBs.

There has been some pretence that this will all change under the Bill, just as there has been for previous ones on commissioning. ICBs are given flexibilities and can build place-based sublevels, but the reality is that, as they are constructed at the moment, they are the same old NHS cartels. They have all the freedom they are allowed, but they may ultimately be powerless. The public will have as much idea about what ICBs do as they did about CCGs, and we all remember the marches to save our PCTs in the distant past. Just to make this clear, vested interests get a place in the ICB as of right but the public, patients and staff are not given that honour and responsibility. That is what part of these amendments does. Amendment 37, in my name and that of others, sets out our view about which voices are most important, and it breaks the mould of NHS appointing.

I divert briefly to say that elsewhere we will discuss more about how those appointments are made. Our view is that some independent appointments commission ought to make a comeback. I took great encouragement from the comments of the noble Earl, Lord Howe, on Tuesday, which helped in this regard. But there is still far too much control from the top and far too little say from the bottom on all the appointments that will be made under the Bill. Amendment 37 at least offers a way to have some diversity and possibility to challenge the interests that dominate the NHS.

Surely nobody who looks at what the amendments suggest would argue that these interests do not have a right to some voice. The public, patients, staff, social care, public health, mental health—which of these can be safely ignored and which has no part to play? We know the Minister in the Commons gave a minimalist defence in the interests of the new mantra of flexibility. He rightly said that boards should be of a manageable size and that ICBs should have some flexibility—as much as NHS England would allow—to add others to the board, beyond the minimum. The NHS actually has to do what it is told and, unless a more stringent requirement is put in the legislation, it will do what it has always been allowed to do. If we really want a better care system and some change to make organisational upheaval worthwhile, let us have a go at doing something different, with a wider group of voices to be heard and take decisions.

Our Amendment 37 deals with appointing key non-executive board members to represent interests, but within a unitary board. On Tuesday, colleagues pointed out that all board members share collective responsibility, which is a tried and tested model, but we need a discussion about this. I can see from the amendments in this group that other noble Lords have views—my noble friend Lord Bradley and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for example—but our amendments and others in the group, if we discuss them together, would make for a better balanced board, which does not necessarily have to be a larger board. I hope the Minister will consider these submissions carefully. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Garden of Frognal Baroness Garden of Frognal Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton, is taking part remotely. I invite the noble Baroness to speak.

Photo of Baroness Masham of Ilton Baroness Masham of Ilton Crossbench

My Lords, I want to support the proposed new paragraph (h) in Amendment 37, which says,

“at least one member appointed to represent the voice of patients and carers in the integrated care board’s area.”

The patient’s voice should be heard throughout the Bill. What is the National Health Service for if not patients? Patients should be involved in planning, ensuring that patients’ and carers’ views continue to be represented. Their experience should be collected. They, with their carers, are the people who know what good, safe care is and what poor results are. I hope the patient’s voice will be involved. I am pleased that many Members already stated this in amendments last Tuesday. I hope the Government agree, and I look forward to hearing from the Minister.

Photo of Lord Bradley Lord Bradley Labour

My Lords, I speak to my Amendment 38 and declare my health interests in the register, particularly as a trustee of the Centre for Mental Health and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

This amendment is short and simple. As its explanatory statement makes clear, it merely adds to the list of requirements for membership of an integrated care board that must be included in the ICB constitution. I believe it is essential to have a representative of mental health trusts for each ICB area, and therefore on the ICB, as it is the key strategic body for, among other things, healthcare commissioning, planning priorities and resource allocation for a local area.

The broad context of my amendment is to ensure that what progress has been made—and there has been progress—regarding the concept of parity of esteem between mental and physical health, and crucially the allocation of resources to mental health, is not lost in the new structure of the integrated care boards.

We have already had some powerful and compelling debate around the concept of parity of esteem, which I will not repeat today, but suffice it to say that, through this Bill, we must not lose the fact that Section 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 enshrined in law equivalent duties on the Secretary of State for Health in relation to the improvement of physical and mental health services, and that, since 2013, the NHS Constitution for England has contained a commitment

“to improve, prevent, diagnose and treat both physical and mental health problems with equal regard.”

Obviously, this overall context is much broader than my amendment, but it has and will form the backdrop to many of our debates in the coming weeks. However, as a crucial step, and to secure that the commitments to mental health services are honoured, we must ensure the most appropriate and relevant membership of integrated—I stress “integrated”—care boards.

That is why I also support other amendments in this group, particularly Amendment 37 in the names of my noble friend Lady Thornton and others, in which proposed new paragraph (d) mirrors my amendment but also includes, as we have heard, directors of public health and social care providers. They must be included. Amendment 39 proposes an expert in learning disabilities and autism, which I strongly support. I look forward to hearing the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, who I have tremendous respect for, speak to that amendment. It also must be accepted. Further, I have added my name to Amendment 40 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, to include allied health professionals. I give a particular mention to speech and language therapists. Along with other allied health professionals, they will continue to play an important role, as the Government have recognised, in delivering the NHS long-term plan.

All these bodies are critical parts of delivering along the various pathways for mental health services, from early intervention and prevention to the most specialised care, and include the interface with the criminal justice system, such as liaison and diversion services. Therefore, it is essential that each of these bodies, and others, has a seat at the board table, and that, specifically, mental health trusts are statutorily included, as my amendment proposes.

If we take my own home area, Greater Manchester, as an example, there are essentially three mental health provider trusts covering the ICB area. I am sure they could agree who should serve on the board and ensure that the interests of mental health services are heard loud and clear. Without their voice, there is a real danger that the very powerful interests of acute trusts, principally delivering physical health services, will dominate the agenda, possibly undermining commitments on parity of esteem and skewing decisions on resource allocations —both revenue and capital—away from investment in local mental health services.

The Minister may suggest that such prescription is not required or that guidance will be sufficient to persuade ICBs to including mental health trusts on their boards. I have no doubt that the chair-designate in Greater Manchester, Sir Richard Leese, fully understands the imperative to include them on the board, but this is not good enough. This requirement must be underpinned by statute, otherwise there could be a lack of consistency across the 42 ICB areas that undermines equality of access to mental health services and further limits transparency and accountability to local people for decisions that will be taken on their behalf in respect of their mental health and well-being.

I feel sure that the Government will recognise this, and I look forward to a positive response not only to my Amendment 38 but to other amendments in this group that aim to protect the interests of mental health services across the country.

Photo of Baroness Hollins Baroness Hollins Crossbench 5:30 pm, 13th January 2022

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, and I support those amendments with respect to mental health. My Amendments 27 and 39 would provide for the addition of an expert in learning disability and autism on each integrated care board and ensure that the learning disability and autism lead was a person with knowledge and understanding of what good health and support look like for people with a learning disability and for autistic people.

As a starting point, this proposal has already been pledged by the Government in both the NHS long-term plan and the autism strategy, the latter stating:

“We also expect that all Integrated Care Boards, which will be established by the proposed Health and Care Bill, will focus on autism and learning disabilities at the highest level, for example by having a named executive lead for autism and learning disability.”

The reason for the Government’s firm commitment is that people with a learning disability and autistic people are among those who stand to benefit most from the integrated approach that the Bill seeks to implement. These are people whose needs frequently span health and social care systems. They are one of the largest recipient groups in terms of cost of health and social care provision and therefore a cohort with one of the greatest stakes in the effective integration of these two systems.

People with a learning disability experience huge health inequalities—very relevant to discussion on the first group of amendments today. On average, the life expectancy of men and women with a learning disability is 14 and 18 years shorter than for the general population respectively. Thirty-eight per cent of people with a learning disability die from an avoidable cause as against only 9% in the comparison population. These inequalities have been hugely exacerbated during the pandemic, with death rates of up to six times higher than among the general population, according to Public Health England. People with Down’s syndrome were identified as being at as high a risk as the over-80s. Yet they have had inappropriate DNACPRs put on their hospital records without their consent and had catastrophic reductions in care and support during the past two years, which will take years to recover from. There has been much greater reliance on family carers, who are too often dismissed as difficult by poorly trained health and social care decision-makers.

It is not learning disability and autism that are the cause; it is the situation that they are in as a result of ineffective plans and ineffective responses to their needs. Learning disability and autism, as well as foetal alcohol spectrum disorder—a much underdiagnosed and poorly understood condition but related to the groups I am speaking about—are lifelong states of being, but they are unequal states of being. Having a learning disability or being an autistic person is not like having cancer. People with learning disabilities and autistic people also get cancer; they also have a much higher prevalence of mental health problems.

The work I am overseeing for the Department of Health and Social Care places the major responsibility for inappropriate and lengthy detentions in long-term segregation under the Mental Health Act at the door of commissioners. It is a commissioning failure in the main. Some commissioners have relied on the availability of crisis admissions rather than collaborating to develop essential community services, including housing and skill support, social prescribing of meaningful activities and other innovative wellness approaches.

This is an urgent appeal to the Government to clearly signal a requirement for competent and accountable commissioning for people with a learning disability and autistic people. There is a lot of money being wasted at the moment through very poor commissioning. Please can we get it right this time?

Photo of Baroness Bakewell Baroness Bakewell Labour

My Lords, before I address my Amendment 28, giving my support to my noble friend Lady Thornton, I wish to endorse the other amendments that are calling for representatives of particular groups—we just heard mention of two. I particularly endorse all those, especially as I am taking rather an oblique approach to this debate, which is not reflected in the other amendments.

Last year, there was a report in America that, increasingly, hospitals there were closing. The report said that hospitals were seen as businesses; a fifth of hospitals in America are run for profit, and globally, private equity investment in healthcare has tripled since 2015. In 2019, some $60 billion were spent on acquisitions. Globally, that includes—indeed, targets—us and the NHS. Where does that affect us? Increasing inroads are being made into the National Health Service by Centene and its subsidiary Operose, which now own 70 surgeries around this country. From Leeds to Luton, from Doncaster to Newport Pagnell, from Nottingham to Southend and many more, Centene now owns and runs for profit surgeries formerly owned and run by NHS doctors. It is now the biggest single provider of GP surgeries in this country. It has further designs on the existing fabric of the NHS, seeking to have its representatives sitting on the boards of CCGs, making decisions about the deployment of NHS funding. This is a direction of travel that needs to be monitored and checked. Safeguards must be written into the Bill against this takeover.

Why does it matter, just as long as patients have good and free treatment at the point of need? What is the reputation of Centene in America? It is not good. Indeed, it is regularly embroiled in lawsuits from either patients or shareholders, and the sums are not small. In June last year, Centene had to pay a fine of $88 million to the state of Ohio for overcharging on its Medicare department. This is one of many. Since 2000, there have been 174 recorded penalties for contract-related offences against Centene and its subsidiaries. That enterprise is now active in this country and targeting our NHS. It is not a fit company to be part of our health service. I therefore ask the Minister for safeguards to be written into the Bill against such people being represented on our boards. When I raised this at Second Reading, the Minister replied that there was no chance of us selling the NHS. We do not need to: they are buying us.

Photo of Lord Davies of Brixton Lord Davies of Brixton Labour

My Lords, I will not detain the Committee in speaking to my Amendment 30. In truth, I am speaking in favour of my noble friend Lady Thornton’s Amendment 29. I could claim that my amendment has the virtue of being shorter but perhaps brevity is not always a virtue. Amendment 29 also makes the important point that it is the sub-committees and committees of the ICBs that will be crucial. The substantive point is that the Government have to accept that the amendment agreed in the Commons is totally inadequate. It depends on matters of judgment. We want a clear specification of who is appropriate to be a member of those bodies.

Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 5:45 pm, 13th January 2022

My Lords, it is my pleasure to support all the amendments in this group, so ably introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton. I thank her for tabling this amendment and Amendment 28, to which I was pleased to attach my name.

I agree with pretty well everything that has been said but want particularly to highlight the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins. As she was talking, I was thinking about testimony that I heard earlier this week at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design in Education. A teacher was saying that if their educational provision caters to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged pupil in their school, that means that it is catering the best for everyone. It might be thought that having a representative for the interests of those with autism and learning difficulties will affect the care that they receive but it would actually greatly improve the care that everyone would receive. That is not often adequately understood.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, said in her introduction, there are really two sub-groups here. Going from consideration of Amendment 18 to Amendment 30, we are essentially talking about, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, was saying, the need to avoid corporate capture of our NHS, although the corporate sector has already won many battles and taken over a great deal of the NHS. If the need for profit is the way in which things are being run, care must suffer. Care is the second priority and that is an unavoidable fact. When one considers privatisation—I have later amendments that will address the care sector in particular—we see where this has been allowed to extend to extremes, whereby the private equity sector has taken over our care system at enormous cost to the quality of care for public and private pockets. The system is in a state of near-continual collapse. We have to make sure that ICBs do not go down the route that our care sector has already gone down.

I am thinking about this matter for Report. There is also a further issue whereby although these amendments address people’s current employment and roles, we also need to think about the revolving door situation, about which, I see from social media, the public are increasingly concerned. We see people flipping between the private and public sectors and taking the interests, direction of travel and thinking of one to the other—and not for positive purposes.

I am aware of the hour but I am looking at the second sub-group of amendments, Amendments 37 to 41, and at who should be there. The issue relates to my comments on the previous group. We cannot just say, in terms of managing the NHS, “Just leave it to the doctors and the experts. They know about care.” Of course they do in terms of running services but in making choices and allocations and in ensuring that the ICB meets the needs of its community, it is the community that knows what the needs are and should tell the medical people what needs to be delivered, and the shape of that delivery. The technical details will come down to the medical people.

It is therefore crucial that we do not see the ICBs as technocratic places for people with MBAs and doctors but that we should include trade unionists, patients and carers. Carers are particularly important because our current system does so poorly in meeting their needs and supporting them. We need bodies that truly serve to represent the community.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Wirral Lord Hunt of Wirral Conservative

My Lords, in declaring my interests as set out in the register, I want to press my noble friend the Minister on conflicts of interest.

Paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 to the Bill provides that local NHS trusts and GPs are to appoint members of the integrated care board. Organisations that provide the bulk of NHS services will therefore be co-opted into the work of commissioning. It is currently the work of commissioners to hold providers to account, objectively determining whether they are best placed to provide a service and assessing their performance. The new integrated care boards must continue to perform that role.

Clause 14 introduces into the 2006 Act new Section 14Z30, subsection (4) of which provides, rightly:

“Each integrated care board must make arrangements for managing conflicts and potential conflicts of interest in such a way as to ensure that they do not, and do not appear to, affect the integrity of the board’s decision-making processes.”

Reference has already been made to amendments that seek to exclude individuals involved with independent healthcare provision from joining the ICBs. Does my noble friend the Minister agree that the membership of provider appointees on integrated care boards may at least risk creating a perception of a conflict of interest between the roles of those individuals on the board and any roles they may hold with provider organisations? How can the benefit of provider input into the work of an ICB be reconciled with the task of objectively assessing both the suitability and performance of providers? I believe that greater clarity from the very outset on the extent of the role that provider appointees will be expected to play will surely assist ICBs in developing robust governance arrangements, which would then enjoy public confidence.

Photo of Baroness Meacher Baroness Meacher Crossbench

My Lords, I support Amendment 37. In so doing, I add my strong support to the comments of the noble Baronesses, Lady Bakewell and Lady Bennett.

Of course, the ICBs will be central to ensuring adequate funding and support, not only for the powerful acute health trusts and primary care but for the services that are historically underfunded. It is for these services that this amendment is particularly important. Before discussing these specific gaps in the Government’s vision for the new system, I want to stress that I am very concerned that we should not lose vital clinical leadership along with patient representation, which were the hallmarks of the CCG system. Of course, we want worker and carer representation but, in my experience, top medics are actually rather good at deciding how money should be allocated across services.

In my view, the absence of a public health representative from the shortlist of necessary ICB members in the Bill is an extraordinary oversight. This amendment seeks to put that right. ICSs are already in the process of developing their draft constitutions, which, while dependent on the final content of the Bill, provide a clear indication of their intent regarding clinical membership. It is particularly concerning that several ICSs have failed to include any role on their ICB for public health experts in their draft constitutions, with some failing to make any reference to public health at all. As the BMA points out in its briefing, this poses a significant risk to the role and prominence of public health within the work of those ICBs.

In relation to the importance of public health representation on ICBs, noble Lords should be aware of the impact of this on the vexed issue of drug addiction. Police services up and down the country are recognising that criminalisation and imprisonment are entirely counterproductive in this field. These responses only limit the young person’s education and employment options and tie them into a life of drugs and crime, with appalling consequences for them but also for their communities. Police services are increasingly adopting diversion to treatment as a preferable response when an individual is found in possession of drugs, but drug treatment services have been cut over the past 10 years. ICBs will need to tackle this situation as a matter of urgency if the police are to be able to stem the tide of county lines and other highly damaging consequences of our counterproductive and, in my view, idiotic drug policies and failure to treat addiction as a mental health problem, which, of course, it is. These urgent issues will not be confronted unless public health is strongly represented on ICBs and other boards and committees in the new structure.

Another cri de coeur is for mental health, as others have said. Having chaired a mental health trust for many years, I am acutely conscious of the impact of bed shortages on very sick people and their families and of the very high threshold for child mental health services. There is no doubt that if we do not treat children with mental health problems, we will have adults with these kinds of problems throughout their lives. The country cannot afford to continue neglecting this important field. I support the other amendments in this group. The NHS has major long-term workforce shortages and other problems. If they are to be addressed adequately, the staff need representation, along with patients and carers.

I end with a plea to ensure, through membership of ICBs, ICSs and ICPs, that clinical leadership is retained within the NHS. On ICBs, this must include at least two primary care members, at least one clinical representative of secondary care, acute care and mental health and at least one qualified and registered public health consultant. I hope the Minister will tell the Committee whether he agrees with this approach to ICB membership.

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

My Lord, I rise very briefly to support Amendment 37 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, to which I have added my name. She and the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, have identified in detail why this is a key amendment that identifies the core representation that is required for ICB boards to function satisfactorily and develop strategies for population health in their area, and I strongly support it.

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

My Lords, I shall speak very briefly to Amendment 38 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bradley. I have huge sympathy with the intention behind this amendment. Everything that we have talked about so far on mental health has pointed to the fact that unless there is a strong mental health voice on ICBs, the whole issue of mental health funding and the priority it has will not get as strong a voice as it should. I recognise that some argue that we should not overspecify the membership of new bodies but should allow each integrated care system the flexibility to develop based on its own set of local relationships, and I do not overlook that point. However, my natural sympathy is that it is only too possible for mental health concerns to be ignored when decisions are made about resource allocation and prioritisation without a strong mental health voice around the table.

However, I think I may have a way through this. We need to look back to the discussions we had on Tuesday about the overriding importance of mental health being explicitly mentioned in the triple aims. If such an aim were in place, I think we would be hard pushed to form an ICS or an ICB without mental health representation and we might be able to argue that it is not necessary, in those circumstances, to have it in the Bill. However, if that aim is not explicit, then the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, is very strong indeed.

Photo of The Bishop of London The Bishop of London Bishop

My Lords, I rose on the first day of this Committee to speak to the membership of NHS boards. I rise today for a similar reason: I think it is very difficult to stipulate the membership of boards, just as the noble Baroness has said. However, as I said with NHS boards, I say with ICB boards that I think the voice of the patient is central. Along with my role as the Government’s Chief Nursing Officer, I was director of patient experience while I was in the Department of Health. As a nurse at that time, I believed I had a patient focus. However, I learned that my default was always as a professional and that the patient needs a voice and empowerment. While I recognise the clinical voice and would always want it on the NHS board and the ICB board, it does not replace the voice of the patient and the carer.

I recognise that on the first day in Committee the Minister was not inclined to accept the amendment that related to patient and carer representatives on the board. If he is not inclined to accept Amendment 37H, can he explain to us how the voice of carers is threaded through this Bill to ensure we appropriately meet their needs? At the end of the day, if we give them a voice, they design the services better. In the long term, it saves money as well as giving them agency. I believe that if the voice the patient is threaded through this Bill, it would answer the concerns of the noble Baronesses, Lady Masham and Lady Hollins, and the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, by ensuring that it is focused, whether on the needs of those with learning disabilities or mental ill-health or other groups.

I recognise the difficulty of outlining and detailing names in the Bill, but I would be interested to know from the Minister how the voice of patients and empowering them and giving them agency is threaded through this Bill.

Photo of Baroness Pitkeathley Baroness Pitkeathley Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 6:00 pm, 13th January 2022

My Lords, like the noble Baronesses who have spoken before me, I recognise the difficulty of being too specific about board membership, but I think that paragraph (h) in Amendment 37 in the name of my noble friend, to which the noble Lord, Lord Patel, has added his name, is wide enough to enable patients and carers to be represented. Indeed, given the Government’s commitment to the voice of patients and carers, I find it difficult to understand how they could not accept such an amendment. I know the Minister is extremely committed to that patient and carer voice.

I want to extend that a bit to making sure that we do not forget the vital contribution that charities and community organisations make to health and social care services through their well-documented ability to be innovative and flexible. Your Lordships know that in the course of the pandemic, they immediately operated better delivery mechanisms than the statutory sector was able to because they were able to be flexible. One million volunteers were recruited, and many people had experiences similar to mine, with people saying that it was only through the services of voluntary organisations and charities that they had any kind of support at all, particularly during the first few weeks of the pandemic.

When the Public Services Committee of your Lordships’ House did its inquiry into how public services had reacted to the pandemic, time and again we received examples of where charities were ignored by public service providers. Even if they were consulted at a later stage in planning, it was not to take account of their experience and skills but to assume they would co-operate in whatever role was doled out to them. That is not the way to make the best use of the untold amount of good will, experience and skill that exists in charities, especially in the areas of health and social care. This is a waste of scarce resources and must be recognised in the new structures as they are set out. There are many examples of where these partnerships work well, recognising the different skills on offer, and of where charities are treated as partners, but they must be involved in planning at the earliest stages and be supported financially if appropriate. They will always give a good return on resources.

The other area where charities make a significant contribution is in representing the patient and carer voice. Voluntary sector organisations are often the services that have most contact, especially with vulnerable people. Your Lordships will have endless examples of that. Much is made of how important the voice of the user, patient and carer is when planning or delivering the services. Co-production, co-design and the other buzzwords we hear all the time absolutely depend on being in touch with users and patients. Almost inevitably, the easiest way to access users and patients is through local or national charities which make users their focus, both in the planning of services and the governance of the organisation.

Proper involvement of users, patients and carers often throws up surprises, even pleasant ones, about money. If you really take the views of users and patients, you will often find that what they want from health and social care services is not what is being provided. They will often ask for less provision than we expect, so long as it actually meets their needs, not the needs estimated by the providers. This is a valuable fact when resources are short. It is one more important reason to forge partnerships with the voluntary sector when the memberships of ICBs and ICSs are being set up. Organisations in their areas should be considered as partners which have a great deal to contribute and will do so willingly and productively.

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

I have two amendments in this group, so I will try to address them very briefly because of time. I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, for the way that she introduced this and would like to return very briefly to the issue of public/private potential conflict when public money is being spent, because there is an issue of probity around that. Having shared corporate accountability for the delivery, functions and duties of the ICS could be in conflict with the legal duties of company directors, as has already been pointed out, and therefore creates problems.

I know that the Government recognised this in the other place, but their amendment seems to fall short in two respects. It leaves to the appointed chair of the board the decision on whether a person with interests in private healthcare is incorporated into an ICB. The difficulty is that it provides a condition that their interests in private healthcare could undermine the independence of the health service, but it is very unclear how that will actually be measured. I can see that it would be a fantastic area for legal argument that a precedent had been set in one area that was being worked against by the chair of another ICB. I think this needs to be clarified, because they will be dispensing public money and there are examples already where different decisions have been taken. I will not go into those now because of time.

I turn briefly to the reasons behind the amendments I have put down and declare that I am president of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, for co-signing my amendments. There is a role in recognising that the allied healthcare professionals are the third-largest part of the workforce—the workforce is not just doctors and nurses—and are critical to the long-term plan for the NHS. They work across the health and social care boundary and out into the community. They are integral—physiotherapists in particular—to primary care, and speech and language therapists are essential for children and young people, particularly those with communication difficulties, and that of course includes those with autism and learning difficulties.

I also recognise, though, the problem that you cannot have everybody listed on a board and everybody wants their own so-called representation on it. It will be important that the terms of reference and the metrics by which the function of the board is measured and compared are very clearly laid out, to make sure that there is appropriate consultation at all times with those who are on the receiving end of healthcare, and that people such as allied healthcare professionals are appropriately involved in decisions for the patient groups on which they can have a major impact. Quite often they have a much more major impact than medicine or nursing will do in terms of a patient’s long-term quality of life, and rehabilitation in particular.

So I hope that the Government have listened to this debate and in particular will heed the important warning from the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, in opening this debate and in the content of the amendments that she has tabled.

Photo of Lord Mawson Lord Mawson Crossbench

My Lords, I spoke on Tuesday about the structure that my colleague Paul Brickell, a Labour councillor in Newham at the time, and I, wrote for the then Government Minister Hazel Blears for the new company that would deliver the Olympic legacy in east London. I also described some of the key people who were invited to be directors of this company, with a clear vision and narrative, focused on delivery.

In east London live people from every nation on earth. Indeed, we did some research and we thought Greenland was not represented—but then we found a family in Newham that was from Greenland. Clearly, we could not have a representative from every nation on the Olympic Park Legacy Company, the OPLC—it was not possible.

At that time the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, was chosen as a Labour Peer by a Labour Prime Minister to be the chairman of the board. She was a very experienced player in the regeneration world from Scotland, not east London. I think that at the time she was a little embarrassed that I, an east Londoner, was not chairing it, given all the early work we had done on helping the east London Olympics happen. But I was not a Labour Party member and therefore could not carry the then Government with me, while she could. I was not concerned about this. My colleagues and I in east London were concerned about whether she had the knowledge and skill that could add real value to this important project and the public sector organisation that had been created. She was excellent and had an objectivity I could not possibly have.

We needed both things on the board: deep, local, practical experience and objectivity. I was asked to chair the Regeneration and Community Partnerships Committee, I think because she thought I knew quite a lot about these local issues and delivery, was trusted by local people and had a track record of delivering in place and in local neighbourhoods. Because my colleagues and I had delivered real projects with the local population, we did not know one thing about the place and neighbourhood: we knew, in depth, many things. It was all about finding the right experienced people, not those who said they represented something or somebody. The mayors of Newham and Hackney were there because they were impressive Labour leaders in east London who were turning around troubled local authorities.

I was asked to join the OPLC board as a person with deep, long-term roots in both a place—east London—and a neighbourhood, Bromley-by-Bow. I could speak and reflect back to the board not one thing—say, the environment—but also health: we were responsible for 43,000 patients. I had also been a Mental Health Act manager for quite some years locally. I think the noble Baroness chose me because I had deep and wide experience of the people, place and local neighbourhoods, and because of the practical work we had done in east London over quite some time—three decades, actually. It was about practical experience of place and neighbourhood and delivery. It was not about a person who thought he or she was representing one group or another, or a particular topic.

Experienced people bring many things to the board with them. I worry about the disabled person on a board who thinks they can talk only about disability issues—this is very condescending—or the young person who can talk only about young people’s issues. They can talk and have views on everything; it is about finding the right-quality person. However, they must have in-depth knowledge of what is actually going on locally and a deep understanding of the practical issues surrounding delivery. This is absolutely crucial.

There is a wider problem with some representatives on committees and structures, because they represent other agendas and they have mixed loyalties. They cannot focus on the task of the board because they have mixed loyalties elsewhere. They do not therefore prioritise the needs of the organisation they are sitting on. There is a lack of clarity about this, and I suspect we will all have experienced this on boards we have sat on. We need to get very clear about these democracy and delivery issues—what I call “the two Ds”. I have listened to a lack of clarity around these issues from successive Governments in recent years. We must get this clear if the new NHS structure is to really deliver the transformation we all now want to see and to deal with the health inequalities we rightly all discussed this morning.

Photo of Baroness Harding of Winscombe Baroness Harding of Winscombe Conservative

My Lords, I too spoke on Tuesday about my concerns about listing the specific membership for the NHS England board. I have similar concerns to those that the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, have just set out. However, there is a slight difference with this issue, in that the core purpose of an integrated care board is to integrate. So I recognise the very real concerns that noble Lords across the Committee have mentioned about the importance of being able to hear the voices of all the different elements of our health and care system, to hear patients’ needs loud and clear and to make it a board that genuinely works, as the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, has just set out.

I offer a small suggestion, building on what my noble friend Lord Hunt has said: in the drafting of this Bill, we should think more about what we want the integrated care boards to do—that is, their duties, and we have already had long and important debates on mental health and health inequalities—and how we will measure whether or not they deliver on those duties, and less on specifying in a lot of detail how they will do it.

That is why I find it hard to support the amendments, although, again, as I did on Tuesday, I very much understand and support the sentiment behind them.

Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Co-Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers 6:15 pm, 13th January 2022

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.

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

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.

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

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.

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

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.

We expect this to prevent, for example, directors of or significant stakeholders in private healthcare companies sitting on ICBs. We expect it to prevent those with a significant interest in a private company producing, or seeking to produce, health and care products sitting on integrated care boards. We expect it to prevent lobbyists sitting on boards, and it would prevent anyone with an obvious ideological interest that clearly runs counter to the founding principles of the NHS and its independence sitting on the board of an ICB.

This test has deliberately been framed broadly to reflect the wide range of potential circumstances that would render someone unsuitable to sit on an ICB board. It has also been framed to require the appointing persons to apply an element of judgment, because we want what is best for the NHS at all times and that requires a degree of local flexibility. To guide this judgment and to make sure it is being applied appropriately, NHS England will have the power to issue general guidance on the appointment process. If necessary, we can introduce further requirements in connection with ICB membership through regulations.

Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Co-Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers 6:30 pm, 13th January 2022

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.

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

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.

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

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.

Amendment 18 withdrawn.

Clause 7 agreed.

Clause 8: Exercise of functions relating to provision of services

Amendment 19 not moved.

Clause 8 agreed.

Clause 9 agreed.

House resumed.

House adjourned at 6.45 pm.