Examination of Witnesses

Part of Health and Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 9th September 2021.

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Andy Bell:

At the moment, it is really impossible to say. I would like to see the Bill achieving parity of esteem for mental health. As I say, the principles of integrated care could certainly enable that to happen, if combined with a lot of other very significant and important activity to shift the culture in the health service, apart from anything else. The lack of specific provisions in the Bill to ensure that parity is taken seriously is a real worry. I think there are still gaps in the Bill that could be very simply addressed and would help to ensure that system leaders, wherever they are—whether they are on integrated care boards or any other three-letter acronym that gets created—realise that their personal responsibility is to bring about parity for mental health.

I think we are at a point now where there is some recognition in most parts of the system that mental health is important, but very often, outside specific mental health services, there is still an assumption that mental health is something other people and other organisations do, and there is not that shared responsibility for it in quite the way that we think would help to move us forward.