House of Lords
Wednesday 26 January 2022
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Bristol.
Arrangement of Business
My Lords, before we begin proceedings on the Bill, I thought it would be helpful if I outlined the arrangements for today. We will sit until 2 pm in Committee on the Bill. We will then break until 3 pm. At 3 pm, the House will return for Oral Questions. After Oral Questions, we will resume proceedings on the Bill. The House will break again at 6.45 pm for questions on a Statement on Ukraine. After the Statement, we will continue proceedings on the Health and Care Bill.
We have so far spent over 30 hours in Committee on this important Bill across five days. We have three days remaining to complete Committee. I am sure I speak for the whole House when I say that none of us wishes to debate important issues in the early hours of the morning, but without further progress on the Bill we might be left with no choice but to do this. We therefore need to ensure that the Bill receives proper scrutiny effectively, but succinctly.
I know, because I have had very helpful discussions with the Opposition Chief Whips and the Convenor, that the Front Benches will seek to ensure that all their contributions are brief and focused. I urge—indeed, beg—all noble Lords with an interest in this Bill to do the same, to be as concise as they feel able to be in their contributions, to speak briefly to the amendments before the Committee, and not to rehearse arguments that would be more suited to a Second Reading. In this way, we can ensure that all the amendments to this important Bill receive the attention they deserve.
Health and Care Bill
Committee (6th Day)
Relevant documents: 15th and 16th Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee, 9th Report from the Constitution Committee
Clause 20: General functions
106: Clause 20, page 20, leave out lines 20 to 43
My Lords, Amendment 106 is in my name and those of my noble friend Lady Walmsley and the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton. I am very grateful for their support.
Two months ago, two of our Select Committees, the DPRRC and the SLSC, published simultaneous and collaborative reports. The DPRRC report is entitled Democracy Denied? The urgent need to rebalance power between Parliament and the Executive, and the SLSC report is called Government by Diktat: A call to return power to Parliament. It would be very hard to exaggerate the importance of these reports, and I congratulate both committees on a very timely and disturbing reminder of the Government’s habit of trying to bypass Parliament and avoid effective scrutiny, as they do again in this Bill.
Both the reports focused on the long-standing abuse of the use of delegated powers legislation, and the DPRRC concluded:
“The abuse of delegated powers is in effect an abuse of Parliament and an abuse of democracy, and this report will, we hope, be a prompt to strengthen Parliament in the coming years.”
We can make a start on that hope with this Bill.
The DPRRC noted in its report of 15 December that the Bill contains 155 substantive provisions and 156 delegated powers. It concluded:
“The Health and Care Bill is a clear and disturbing illustration of how much disguised legislation a Bill can contain and offends against the democratic principles of parliamentary scrutiny.”
The report examines some of the Bill’s clauses in some detail, including the insertion via Clause 20 of a new Section 14Z48 into the National Health Service Act 2006. Essentially, the new section gives a Minister the power to make law by simply publishing “a document”. The department tries to justify the lack of any parliamentary procedure associated with the publication of a document on the grounds that the power is concerned with operational and administrative matters. However, the DPRRC goes on to say:
“Such a power is very unusual. If used in a context other than one involving public sector health bodies, it might give grave cause for concern and set an extraordinary precedent. Statutory liabilities should be imposed transparently, subject to clear legal conditions and parliamentary scrutiny.”
I should point out here the force of the word “unusual” in the committee’s comments. This is the highest form of disapprobation used by committees, and for good reason. This proposed new section is a blatant, transparent and disgraceful attempt to avoid any parliamentary scrutiny whatever.
The DPRRC’s conclusion is damning. It says:
“The power to impose a legal liability by merely publishing a document, without any parliamentary scrutiny, is a striking example of disguised legislation. We regard it as an inappropriate delegation of power, which should be removed from the Bill.”
In its report on the Bill of 7 January, the Constitution Committee agreed with the DPRRC’s recommendation to remove the new section from the Bill. I agree strongly, and that is what our amendment would do. I suggest to the Minister that if he wants to retain the powers set out in proposed new Section 14Z48, he rework them between now and Report so that they at least involve scrutiny by the affirmative procedure. If not, he can certainly expect us to return to this serious abuse of delegated powers on Report. I beg to move.
My Lords, we have just heard a very powerful contribution from my noble friend Lord Sharkey, reminding Ministers and your Lordships’ House of the importance of the problem of Ministers taking delegated powers, stopping Parliament doing its job properly. I support his amendments.
Amendments 133, 139 and 161 in this group, from the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, are on continuing healthcare and I can think of no better person in your Lordships’ House to speak about the importance of that. I look forward to her speech. I am pleased to support her amendments and will speak to them now. The NHS definition says:
“Some people with long-term complex health needs qualify for free social care arranged and funded solely by the NHS. This is known as NHS continuing healthcare.”
The full continuing healthcare assessment and the toolkit for updating assessments are absolutely vital for any multidisciplinary team and, at least in theory, these amendments put them on a formal footing as part of the smooth package of care that individuals need. The amendments establish a duty to fund and assess continuing healthcare, which needs to be visible, not least because of the abuses in the current system.
The principles of continuing healthcare in current legislation are fine, but unfortunately, as money has got tighter, there are problems with how they work in practice. There are many reports of CCG assessors and social workers having disruptive and degrading discussions, sometimes with family members present, about whether a particular issue is a continuing healthcare or a personal care need, which would be funded by the patient or their local authority, or the NHS. I personally witnessed a debate about the percentage split of continuing care versus personal care concerning the incontinence of a family member. It was not about the patient; it was solely about money and who would pay.
On the use of the toolkit, Beacon’s website states:
“When the Decision Support Tool has been completed and considered by the Multidisciplinary Team, they should have a genuine and meaningful discussion about whether they feel the individual has a primary health need. This is a role for the entire MDT, not just the CCG’s coordinating assessor and the social worker.”
“Not just” is an interesting phrase to use. The actual power is entirely in the hands of the parties who have the funding—in this case, either the CCG or the social worker; of course, the social worker acts on behalf of either the patient or their local authority. The reality is that it becomes a negotiation about who pays and can, as I said, end up as a haggle over percentages. It can feel as though the patient’s needs were long dispensed with. That is why these amendments are so important.
Amendment 133 states that ICBs’ annual reports must cover
“all commissioned services, including NHS continuing healthcare”.
I believe that this requirement will bring more focused attention on the assessments and the negotiations. Amendment 139 would require a performance assessment of continuing healthcare assessments, their results and their consequences. Finally, Amendment 161 would ensure regular reviews and performance assessments of continuing healthcare assessments, their results and their consequences.
The Government say that this is the Bill that will transform the commissioning of health and social care. In a perfect world, they would be a seamless service, both properly funded to deliver what the patient needs. By adding continuing healthcare to the Bill, it will be strengthened, and that golden thread between the NHS and the social care sector will run all the way through it. I hope the Minister will accept these three amendments, which would help to deliver exactly the change the Government want.
My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 133, 139 and 161 in my name, and to Amendments 143 and 144 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, to which I have added my name.
Amendments 133, 139 and 161 are intended to clarify the role that continuing healthcare—CHC—will play, along with other commissioned services. The Continuing Healthcare Alliance has raised concerns about the provision of NHS continuing healthcare. The package of care is there to support people with ongoing and substantial needs in England. Examples of conditions for which someone may qualify for CHC include Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease and dementia, but there are many others as well.
Amendments 143 and 144 would strengthen the power of NHS England to give directions to integrated care boards. They would help to ensure national consistency of CHC services, which, sadly, is not always the case at present. When the Bill was debated in the other place, the Minister, Edward Argar, responded to a similar amendment as follows:
“It is right that clinical commissioning groups, as they are currently called, are held accountable for NHS continuing healthcare within their local health and social care economy. That will also be the case with the national move to integrated care boards, where the board will discharge those duties and be accountable for NHS continuing healthcare as part of its NHS commissioning responsibilities.”—[Official Report, Commons, Health and Care Bill Committee, 28/10/21; col. 825.]
Given this earlier response, I believe that it is the intention of the Government to improve the national delivery of continuing healthcare and to ensure more consistent delivery throughout England. The intention of this group of amendments is to clarify that in the Bill, so I commend Amendments 133, 139 and 161.
My Lords, I added my name to Amendments 133, 139 and 161, which were so ably introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, and others. I also have Amendments 143 and 144 in my name. All the amendments aim to tackle the accountability gap: the inconsistency of provision of continuing healthcare across different parts of England.
The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, alluded to some diseases, but this goes much wider. There are people with spinal injuries and long-term multiple sclerosis and there are people who have had strokes. They all need ongoing long-term healthcare at a high level—way above the level that can be provided by social care.
The problem is that the accountability gap exists and there is inconsistency in the quality of provision, with eligibility criteria being interpreted differently in different areas. Amendments 143 and 144 aim to strengthen the powers of NHS England in the Bill to give direction to integrated care boards, with the particular aim of closing this accountability gap. Within the existing system, NHS England is responsible for holding clinical commissioning groups accountable for their discharge of continuing healthcare and functions.
In the reformed system proposed by the Bill, NHS England will hold these boards accountable in a similar way, but I question whether it has adequate authority both in the current system and the proposed system and whether the levers available to it to act meaningfully are adequate. While the intention prior to the Lansley reforms was to give NHS England powers to intervene to create meaningful change in practice, the powers were restricted to high-level interventions where there was a failure of governance at the highest level, rather than interventions where a CCG was failing to implement good practice or to adhere to national policy.
The 2018 report by the Public Accounts Committee in the other place supported these concerns and stated:
“NHS England is not adequately carrying out its responsibility to ensure CCGs are complying with the legal requirement to provide continuing healthcare to those that are eligible.”
There are limited accountability mechanisms and there is inadequate data collection at present. These amendments seek clarification and would drive long-overdue improvements in the quality and, importantly, the consistency of the way that continuing healthcare decisions are made and the process is administered, with the aim of improving outcomes and reducing the strain of applying for continuing healthcare for people who live with complex health needs and for their loved ones, in particular their family and carers.
My Lords, I very much support the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, in her amendments. We should be clear that continuing health needs are ignored by assessors because of the issue of who will pay. I have experienced this twice with neighbours and friends. It was clear to me that both patients had complex needs, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and had undeniable continuing care needs, so I was puzzled as to why the families were working out how to fund places for their relatives. They had never been told of the possibility of continuing NHS funding. I suggested that they quote the legislation back to the assessors and of course when they did so they found that funding would be provided—and some years later it is still being provided. Without this chance encounter with me, and asking the right questions, those families would have been denied the funding that is their right.
My Lords, as ever, it is a great pleasure to row in behind my former boss at Age Concern—the inspirational leader of Age Concern for so many years—to return to an issue that Age Concern and its successor body Age UK have for decades raised with successive Governments during successive NHS reorganisations.
It is important, at the outset of this debate, that we understand the true importance of NHS continuing care. On one level, an individual level, it is about enabling people who have long-term conditions to live dignified lives in the community. At a strategic level, in terms of healthcare planning, it is about keeping people out of acute hospitals, which is the most expensive form of care.
The reason why it is right, again, that we seek to put these amendments on to the face of the Bill is that, at an organisational level within the NHS, there has never been a full accountability path for NHS continuing care. That means that, when it comes to individual decision-making on the part of members of staff in relation to individual patients, the decisions fall down. We have not just wide variation between different organisations but wide variation between particular practitioners, who sometimes resort to using non-standard checklists to make decisions, with inconsistent decision-making.
As a result of that, it is hardly surprising, but a real condemnation of a long-term failure of the NHS, that there is a need for an organisation such as Beacon to exist. It is a social enterprise set up by the main charities that gives information to older people and their carers. It should not have to exist. The fact that it does, and that it is a profitable social enterprise business, is testimony to the extent to which older people and their relatives are being badly let down on this.
I hope that in raising this yet again we have shone a light on a part of the NHS system that goes to the heart of what this Bill is supposed to be about. If we do not make this an express responsibility of the NHS in the Bill, yet again it is just not going to happen.
My Lords, I, too, support the noble Baronesses, Lady Greengross and Lady Finlay. It is right that people should have the cost-effective continuing care to which they have a right. I have my name on the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, and I intend to make some very brief comments about that, although I make the point that the need for us to be brief is the Government’s own fault, because they have not given us enough days in Committee—fewer in fact that in another place.
On the amendment, we refer to the 15th report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. I have rarely read such a hard-hitting report by this highly respected committee. One of the worst of the Henry VIII measures that it mentions is allowing zero scrutiny on allowing NHS England, merely by the publication of a document, to impose a financial liability on an ICB. It specifies the circumstances in which an ICB is legally liable to make payments to a provider under arrangements commissioned by another ICB. The Government claim that this is an operational matter. However, if you believe that an ICB should be in total control of deciding how its funds are spent in its area in order to fulfil its duties, you might think that this is an important thing—a legal liability to pay for something that another organisation has decided to commission is quite a serious matter. The DPRRC thinks so and so does the Constitution Committee.
In their response to the DPRRC, as quoted in Appendix 1 of the committee’s 16th report, the Government said that they
“recognise that the Bill contains a significant number of guidance making powers, powers to publish documents and powers of direction.”
They suggest that
“these are appropriate because they reflect the often complex operational details, which are better illustrated by examples and guidance rather than legislation.”
The Government go on to say that there is currently a precedent in the powers of the clinical commissioning groups.
I do not believe that Parliament is unable to grasp technically complex matters, nor to understand them, when illustrated by examples given by a Minister at the Dispatch Box introducing a regulation. I suggest that that is what the Government should do instead of publishing a document; they should explain and give examples. It is patronising to Parliament to suggest that it cannot grasp these issues. The Government have gone too far. It is a power grab and I suggest that the Government withdraw and do exactly what my noble friend Lord Sharkey suggests.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, for opening this important group and moving Amendment 106, to which my noble friend Lady Thornton added her name. As he explained, the substance of this amendment was singled out by the Constitution Committee and highlighted by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. I reinforce the Constitution Committee’s endorsement of the DPRRC’s recommending the removal from Clause 20 of the imposition of legal liability merely by publishing a document. We agree with the two committees that this is a necessary amendment, and I look forward to hearing from the Minister how these concerns will be addressed.
Somewhat paradoxically, Amendments 143 and 144 strengthen the powers of NHS England in its quest for top-down management and imposition. However, they sit within the wider context of describing how NHS England would be able to give directions to integrated care boards under Clause 20 and improve these provisions, so we support them.
The remaining amendments on NHS Continuing Healthcare underline how vital it is to address this urgent issue, although it is not central to the intentions of the Bill. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for ensuring this focus in the debate and for Amendments 133 and 139, which ensure that this crucial issue is specified under the ICB’s duties and included in its annual report and performance review accountabilities.
Today, we heard in detail about the widespread concern about and scale of the problems with the way in which the NHS Continuing Healthcare scheme works and is funded, and the arguments it leads to about who pays for what, as a shared responsibility between the NHS and local government. Patients and their carers feel they are the sideshow, not the central focus of concern, and are deeply traumatised and upset by the whole experience.
As a carer of a disabled adult myself, like my noble friend Lady Pitkeathley, I know, from meeting many other carers and their loved ones, their deep concern about this. The three things that cause most concern and upset, which one hears time and again, are, first, the huge problems with inadequately funded social care packages—or their absence—to meet basic care needs, and deep worries and anxieties about how the care cap will operate; secondly, the trauma of the discharge-from-hospital process for carers and their loved ones, which we will discuss later; and thirdly, NHS Continuing Healthcare, the postcode lottery of whether your loved one receives it or not, the huge bureaucracy around the application and allocation process, the long wait for a response and being stuck in the middle of an NHS local authority fight over funding. As the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, stressed, there is an urgent need to tackle the accountability gap in this process.
NHS Continuing Healthcare is the absolute manifestation of what our Economic Affairs Committee report on the “national scandal” of social care funding called the “condition lottery”—in other words, the wide disparity between health conditions for which people receive healthcare that is free at the point of use and those for which users usually have to make a substantial contribution with “catastrophic costs”, in the committee’s words. As we heard today, dementia is the condition most cited in this regard, but many of us know of cases where people with motor neurone, Parkinson’s and other degenerative diseases have struggled to get NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, either for home care or support in residential homes.
We support Amendment 161, which ensures that the Care Quality Commission reviews must include this issue. However, I am unclear—and may well learn in a minute from the Minister—what role the CQC currently has in looking into all continuing care matters which traverse NHS and local authority boundaries. However, we support its involvement.
The amendment would also ensure that the CQC reviews include looking in depth at how NHS Continuing Healthcare is working under each ICB. That will mean that at last we can begin to develop the much needed strategic overview of this crucial area for thousands of people in desperate need of care and support.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay and Lady Greengross, for bringing this group of amendments.
I understand the intention behind Amendment 106, on payment to providers, which is to remove new Section 14Z48 in its entirety, but the section will allow NHS England to specify the circumstances in which an ICB is liable to make payments to a provider for services commissioned by another ICB.
The Government are committed to ensuring that delegated powers in the Bill use the most appropriate procedure, so that Parliament has due oversight of their use. We recognise that the Bill contains a significant number of guidance-making powers and powers to publish documents. However, we believe that they are appropriate because, as the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, they reflect the often complex operational details and the importance of ensuring that the guidance keeps up with best practice, especially as the system flexes and evolves. I understand the noble Baroness’s point about Parliament, but the issue here is whether, every time the system flexes, Parliament has to have another debate. The ICBs will be reading the guidance, not Hansard, and the guidance should reflect that.
Nor is it our intention to interfere unduly in the financial affairs of ICBs. Instead, the intention is to resolve specific circumstances, such as emergency services. The legislation makes it clear that each ICB has to arrange for urgent care services to be available for all people physically present in the area, not just for the people who are its core responsibility by virtue of their GP registration. I am sure noble Lords will agree that it would be neither fair nor in the best interests of promoting an efficient health service for the ICB to both arrange and cover the cost of all additional emergency treatment brought by visitors to the area, particularly in areas with high visitor numbers. A number of noble Lords referred to that principle in debates last week.
Instead, this provision allows NHS England to mandate a different payment rule for those services, ensuring that, where necessary, the ICB where a patient is registered will pay, rather than the ICB where they receive treatment. This ensures that the financial impact is felt in the right commissioning organisation and eliminates the risk of some ICBs having unreasonable financial demands placed on them—for example, during the holiday season.
The wording of this provision replicates almost exactly the National Health Service Act 2006 as amended in 2012, but it is updated to reflect the new ICB structure. As my noble friend Lord Howe mentioned to me, we had a massive debate about this 10 years ago, but the provision seems to have worked effectively in the CCGs, and we wish to continue that with the ICBs.
Amendments 143 and 144, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, are about NHS England directing ICBs. I understand the interest in ensuring that NHS England has the necessary tools to intervene in ICBs where necessary. However, we believe that NHS England already has sufficient powers to direct ICBs. NHS England already has certain powers to direct an ICB under Section 14Z59(2), and powers to intervene over ICBs in order to prevent failure and to ensure that the lines of accountability from ICBs through NHS England to Parliament are strong.
However, this power has a threshold in that it can be used only if NHS England deems an ICB to be failing to discharge a function or at risk of failing to do so. The threshold removes the possibility of NHS England overdirecting the system while retaining the power for use if necessary. This balances the need to prevent failure and to support accountability with allowing ICBs the autonomy they need to operate effectively.
Amendments 133, 139 and 161 expressly require that ICB annual reports and NHS England performance assessments of ICBs include specific consideration of commissioned services, including NHS Continuing Healthcare, which noble Lords have spoken about, and that the CQC reviews of ICSs include specific consideration of that. We agree with the principle, but we believe that it is already covered in the Bill. NHS England already has a key role in overseeing ICBs. For example, the Bill requires NHS England to assess the performance of each ICB every year, and ICBs are required to provide NHS England with their annual report. These reports will include an assessment of ICB commissioning duties, which would encompass any arrangements for NHS Continuing Healthcare.
In addition, as noble Lords are aware, Clause 26 gives the CQC a duty to assess integrated care systems, including the provision of relevant healthcare and adult social care within the area of each ICB. This would include the provision of NHS Continuing Healthcare. We intend the CQC to pilot and develop its approach to these reviews in collaboration with NHS England, but also with other partners in the system. This should ensure that the methodology does not duplicate or conflict with any existing system oversight roles.
With this in mind, we believe that these amendments are not necessary, because commissioned services, which we would expect to encompass NHS Continuing Healthcare, are already included in these clauses. I hope that I have been able to somewhat reassure your Lordships. For these reasons, I ask noble Lords not to press their amendments.
My Lords, it is clear that new Section 14Z48 is an unambiguous abuse of delegated powers. It provides for a law to be created by the simple issuing of a paper. There is no real possibility of a coherent defence of this procedure and the Minister did not provide one, relying as he did on special pleading and the extraordinary notion that Parliament cannot handle complexity.
As the Bill stands, Parliament is bypassed and scrutiny is avoided. I remind the Committee that the DPRRC and the Constitution Committee have recommended the removal of this section. I again suggest to the Minister that if he wants to retain the powers set out in Section 14Z48, he should rework them between now and Report at least to involve scrutiny by Parliament via the affirmative procedure. If he does not, we will return to this issue on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 106 withdrawn.
Amendments 107 to 144 not moved.
145: Clause 20, page 27, line 43, at end insert—
“(3) Subsections (1) and (2) do not have effect if the information involves the personal data of patients.”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment is aimed at ensuring that the power to disclose information should exclude personal data on patients and is a probing amendment to see what purpose the Government thinks the power in the clause may be used for.
My Lords, my amendment concerns patient data. I want to probe the meaning of new Clause 14Z61, proposed by Clause 20(2), which relates to the permitted disclosure of information by integrated care boards. It sets out, on page 27 of the Bill, a number of conditions under which disclosure can be made. They include when
“the information has previously been … disclosed to the public”
“the disclosure is made in accordance with any enactment or court order”.
That seems perfectly sensible. However, proposed new subsection (1)(f) contains a catch-all condition under which a disclosure can also be
“made for the purpose of facilitating the exercise of any of the integrated care board’s functions”.
That seems remarkably open-ended. My amendment seeks an assurance that this power excludes the personal data of patients.
We have already had one go at the issue of data and digital transformation, and I have told the House that I am right behind the efforts of the NHS and the Minister’s department to encourage the digital transformation of the NHS. The potential is clearly enormous. However, public confidence depends on the integrity of the system and having embedded in it a guarantee that every use of data will be consensual, safe and transparent.
The recent Laura Wade-Gery review, on which a number of noble Lords have commented, acknowledged some of those concerns. As she said:
“The field of data science is undergoing a revolution as new tools such as machine learning transform our ability to gain insights and improve outcomes. These advances, combined with the explosion of new data driven commercial business models, have caused citizens to be concerned about the privacy of their individual health data and the controls in place over its dissemination and use.”
There may be situations where a patient does not want a doctor—by the way, just for the Chief Whip’s reassurance, I have not spoken for 37 minutes as the clock says—to tell another doctor something about them, yet this can be ignored by those who want to copy records across a lifetime. Modern communications have created the capacity to copy medical records on a scale that can shatter medical confidentiality.
The experience of Care.data is surely a lesson for us. The decision to axe the scheme followed the publication of two reports that supported far greater transparency over what happens to the information, and opt-outs for patients who want their data seen only by those directly caring for them. A review by the late Dame Fiona Caldicott, and a second by the Care Quality Commission, recommended tougher measures to keep people’s medical information confidential. The Caldicott review said that there needs to be much more extensive dialogue with the public as to how their information can be used. As she said:
“Citizens have a right to know how their data is safeguarded. They should be included in conversations about the potential benefits that responsible use of their information can bring. They must be offered a clear choice about whether they want to allow their information to be part of this.”
This was brought home to me recently by NHS England’s announcement that it is to give trusts, as employers, access to the Covid and flu NHS vaccination records of their staff. I am fully behind the vaccination drive and sympathetic to the Government’s mandating of vaccines, but the announcement said:
“To assist Trusts with understanding the vaccination status of their workforce, we are providing a solution for Trusts to view the vaccination status of staff who are on the Electronic Staff Record … system. To do this, we are undertaking an exercise on Trusts’ behalf, to match ESR data, using NHS numbers, with vaccination data held in the National Immunisations Management System … which includes data drawn from all point of care vaccination systems. Following a successful import of ESR data into NIMS, a dashboard will be provided to each Trust detailing their workforce Covid and Flu vaccination uptake, drilled down to employee-level.”
Let me be clear: I support the vaccination drive, as I said, but am I the only one to worry about the access to confidential data that is being given? I recognise that we are talking here about electronic staff records as opposed to electronic patient records, but the principle of releasing patient data is the same.
I would like to hear some assurance from the Minister about the use of this clause and the open-ended nature of new Section 14Z61(1)(f), because, as I think we will shortly hear from the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, such an open-ended disclosure provision in other legislation would be looked at with very great concern. Having said that, and having taken up 44 seconds, according to the Clock, I beg to move.
My Lords, I have failed in my duty, and not for the first time. I should have stated before calling Amendment 145 that the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Harris of Richmond, will be taking part remotely. May I apologise, and invite the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, to speak?
My Lords, this probing amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is essential, because it protects confidential patient data from being given out by an ICB in contravention of the ethics rules of the General Medical Council and other regulatory bodies.
When the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill arrived in your Lordships’ House in the autumn, it had clauses in it that gave the police, probation and prison services access to a patient’s confidential medical data as part of their role to reduce and prevent serious violence. As originally drafted, that Bill would have required GPs, CCGs and their staff to hand over that data. This was not just about those under suspicion; it could have been anybody involved in serious violence.
I had extreme concerns about this, and I tabled an amendment not dissimilar to Amendment 145. I was grateful for the support of the noble Lords, Lord Patel and Lord Ribeiro, the General Medical Council, the BMA and others in Committee on that Bill. We had meetings between Committee and Report with officials from the Department of Health and the Home Office, meaning that by the time we got to Report the Government had laid amendments to ensure that a patient’s personal data could not be demanded by the police, probation and prison services. It is now recognised that the medical regulators—the GMC, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and other bodies—actually have the responsibility and the excellent ethical standards by which their members are expected to judge what they should do if they are asked for personal data.
The amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, would address what data an ICB may disclose by adding a subsection to protect the Government in the same way as happened in the police Bill, so that the personal data of patients should not be disclosed. This is a vital amendment. The Government have already accepted in this Parliament that a patient’s personal data must not be accessible by those other than clinical and clerical staff dealing with it, who must abide by the confidentiality rules of their regulatory body or by their employment contract.
This is even more necessary, because the Bill says in new Section 14Z61(1)(g), on permitted disclosures of information, that
“the disclosure is made in connection with the investigation of a criminal offence”.
That is even broader than in the original police Bill. Patient confidentiality is a fundamental ethical duty. It is crucial to upholding the trust that lies at the heart of the doctor-patient relationship. The new section will give the ICB the right to override that.
New paragraph (e) is also more far-reaching than the investigation of any crime. It says that
“the disclosure is made to any person in circumstances where it is necessary or expedient for the person to have the information for the purpose of exercising functions of that person under any enactment”.
So it is not the doctor or the ICB that has the choice about disclosing that information; they must take the word of the person making that request. That is total free access for anyone who says that it is necessary or expedient for them to have that information. Where is the protection of a patient’s individual and confidential data?
It also removes the decision from GPs, despite GPs having very clear and effective guidance from the GMC on when, in exceptional circumstances, they can give out data. I will not quote the whole of the guidance, because we do not have time, but there are two vital points that a GP must consider: the patient must consent, whether implicitly or explicitly; and disclosure must be permitted or must have been approved under a statutory process that sets aside the common-law duty of confidentiality. The doctor also has a duty, even when they have made their decision, to use anonymised information if practicable, and they must be satisfied that the patient has ready access to information explaining how their personal information will be used. It goes on, but I will not quote the rest.
One might hope that Ministers assumed when drafting the clause that confidential patient data would never be included, other than for the treatment of the patient. However, paragraphs (e), (g), (h) and (f), as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, outlined, put paid to that. If the argument is that the clause is needed because the ICB might have to share data with, for example, care providers or social workers carrying out assessments, that needs to be made clear, and it would be permissible. But, as drawn, it is far too brief.
The amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, at least protects the personal data of patients. It is very straightforward and provides the protection that every doctor, nurse and patient would expect. So I hope the Minister will say today that he is happy to accept the amendment. If he is not, please will he agree to a meeting with those who have spoken in this debate, and invite the GMC and the BMA? If progress is not made on this, I will lay an amendment on Report and am likely to press it to a Division.
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, is also taking part remotely and I invite her to speak.
My Lords, having spoken on just about every police Bill in this House for the past 23 years, I am afraid that I could not let this amendment pass without comment. I refer your Lordships to my policing interests in the register.
As my noble friend Lady Brinton has just said, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has just gone through this House, had provisions that gave the police and other criminal justice bodies investigating possible serious violence, or plans to produce serious violence, the power to demand the confidential medical data of individuals. As drafted, unspecified police officers —that means any police officer, not just a senior ranking officer—could make requests to a GP’s surgery or a CCG, or their staff, to hand over the data.
What I found chilling was that the police would not be required to explain to the patient’s GP why they wanted the information, or whether the patient concerned was a potential criminal or possible victim—or even someone associated with the investigation, for example a possible witness or family member. After discussions with Peers, the General Medical Council, Ministers and the British Medical Association, the Government made their own amendments, making it clear that the police would not have this universal access to patient data. Instead, they would have to use the current, traditional method of approaching a patient’s GP directly and asking for the data, with the decision being made by the GP under the GMC code of ethics, as my noble friend Lady Brinton explained.
New Section 14Z61 gives the new integrated commissioning boards a duty to hand over personal medical data to a wide range of bodies that request them. However, I will focus on paragraphs (g) and (h), which are about police requests for data when they are undertaking criminal investigations. It is even more extraordinary that a health Bill is proposing to give the police even wider powers than in the recent police Bill. At least that Bill originally limited access to cases of serious violence. I will quote my noble friend from 25 October 2021, in debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill:
“It is quite extraordinary that this Bill proposes that any Home Secretary can, at will, demand that doctors and other healthcare professionals breach patient confidentiality, over and above their responsibilities of confidentiality to their patients and their commitments to their regulatory body.”—[Official Report, 25/10/21; col. 551.]
This Bill proposes giving police those powers for any criminal investigation. It is absolutely wrong. I refer your Lordships to recent police cases of sexual assault, where we know they have also trawled victims’ telephones and computer data for any information they can find. Would these clauses allow similar fishing expeditions on their private and confidential medical data? Would they also apply to those who might be loosely associated with potential criminals? What about family members? Is it intended that their data be similarly trawled? Where does this end? This entire clause breaches an individual’s right to their medical data being kept confidential, other than in exceptional circumstances. It removes the power from the individual’s GP to make such a decision in exceptional circumstances. Worse, it enables commissioning staff and directors at an ICB to be required to hand over data to the police without the knowledge of the GP. It is totally unacceptable, and I entirely support this amendment.
My Lords, I support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, to which I have added my name. He is not the only one to be concerned about this part of the Bill. My noble friends Lady Brinton and Lady Harris have delivered powerful support and a demonstration of why we have to be absolutely vigilant about access to, and sharing of, personal data, as they were so successfully on the police Bill. We must not repeat those experiences.
We will talk further and more comprehensively about data later in Committee. In the meantime, Amendment 145, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, explained, tries to illicit from Government their intention behind these disclosure powers for ICBs in new Section 14Z61 in Clause 20 with regard to information, whether personal data is involved and what the safeguards are. New Section 14Z61 sets out the provisions whereby
“An integrated care board may disclose information obtained by it”
in the exercise of its power. As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, the catch-all condition in new Section 14Z61(1)(f) under which disclosure can be made
“for the purposes of facilitating the exercise of any of the integrated board’s functions”
seems remarkably open-ended. My noble friends have also pointed out the sheer width of paragraphs (e), (g) and (h), which go even further than those originally proposed in the police Bill and raise crucial questions for the Minister to answer.
Amendment 145 aims to ensure that an ICB cannot disclose information where this is patients’ personal data. In my last intervention on the group headed by Amendment 26, I, like the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, expressed my support for the NHS’s digital transformation programme. It is clear, as the noble Lord says, that there is great potential growth in new technologies using data such as AI and machine learning. However, there is an absolute imperative to have the right safeguards in place in relation to duties and data. This is very much aligned with transparency in public information and engagement, particularly in this context. Transparency, choice and consent are crucial, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, says.
We have all looked forward to the Goldacre review, but I am not convinced that it will range wide enough and cover the governance arrangements needed to preserve and enhance public trust in the sharing and use of health data, but we will see. I look forward to the debate towards the end of Committee when we discuss the wider aspects of the Bill, when we will produce further illustrations of the rather cavalier way in which the Government, the department and the NHS have treated personal data. Not least of these is what has been called the attempted GP data grab of last year. In the meantime, I hope the Minister will be able to give assurances that the powers in Section 14Z61 will be very limited.
My Lords, from the perspective of a clinician, I support this amendment very strongly. If it is not adopted, I can see it being imperative, in any doctor’s consultation, to warn the patient that their data could be accessible and to be very careful about what is recorded in the clinical record. Very often, patients come to see a doctor, possibly at a very early stage of slightly disordered thinking or because they have undertaken a potentially high-risk activity, often in the sexual domain, and are worried that they may have contracted some condition or other. If you inhibit that ability to see a doctor early, you will further drive people into whatever condition is beginning to emerge, so it will not be known about until later. That applies particularly in mental health, where early intervention might prevent a condition from escalating.
I can see that, without an amendment such as the one proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, every clinical consultation will have to be conducted with extreme caution, because of potential access to data.
My Lords, I an enormously grateful for this debate, because this clause and related clauses are critical both to achieving the digital transformation aims of the NHS, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and to getting the healthcare system to work better together.
I am also grateful for the humanity and testimony of several noble Lords, exemplified by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, who spoke movingly about the practicalities of patients going to see their doctors. I know from my own life and from my family how important it is to protect those relationships.
That is why I would like to hear a little from the Minister about what protections there are, because health data is and should be treated as a special category of data. What additional protections are there in the use of health data, including in the common law duty of confidentiality, the role of the National Data Guardian, the way the Caldicott principles will be used and the national data opt-out? What reassurances do we have that those special considerations will apply to this clause and its related components?
My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lord Hunt and those speakers who expressed their concern about the open-endedness of what is in the Bill at the moment and the lack of protection for patient data. I look forward to the Minister’s reply on this.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, particularly for his brief and, as always when he speaks, his clear understanding of the amendment. It makes it so much easier for us to know where the noble Lord is coming from.
I am grateful to all other noble Lords who spoke on this issue, and I understand the interest in the integrated care boards’ power to disclose information that is personal data. As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, mentioned, public trust is essential in this and individuals’ data will be used lawfully and with respect, and held securely with the right safeguards in place. It will need to be proportionate, transparent and subject to individuals’ rights to access and correct information in use.
Let me further explain how we will make sure this happens. I assure noble Lords that the clause already restricts integrated care boards’ powers to disclose information by limiting these to the specific circumstances set out in the clause. Further, all use of personal data is subject to data protection legislation, including the UK general data protection regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. This legislation provides several key protections and safeguards for the use of an individual’s data, including strict rules and key data-protection principles for the sharing of personal data.
Under the UK GDPR, health data has to be treated as a special category. This data requires additional protections due to its obvious sensitivity. For this type of data to be lawfully processed, a further condition must be met, in addition to identifying a lawful basis, as set out in the GDPR and the Data Protection Act.
This data protection legislation applies to the use of all personal data and provides robust safeguards in relation to information and disclosure. Importantly, there are additional protections on the use of health data, including the common-law duty of confidentiality, along with the role of the National Data Guardian, who advises and challenges the health and care system to help ensure that the public’s confidential information is safeguarded securely and used properly. As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, mentioned, there are also the Caldicott principles; there are seven of these, which I am sure noble Lords are aware of, so I will not go through them all now. They provide guidance to health and care organisations on the use of confidential information. Along with this, there is also the national data opt-out.
I remind the Committee that new Section 14Z61 will apply, which provides when an ICB may disclose information obtained by it in the exercising of its functions. I emphasise that maintaining trust that healthcare data is being used properly is paramount. Individuals’ data will be used lawfully and with respect, held securely and have the right safeguards in place. None of the changes we are making will remove the duties of organisations to comply with the requirement of data protection legislation. Along with that, we are working with the Home Office to ensure that the protection and confidentiality of patient information is upheld within the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Appropriate safeguards are in place and the Bill makes it clear that information can be shared only in accordance with data protection laws.
I am concerned that this amendment could cut across the different pieces of relevant legislation, preventing the ICB from effectively discharging its functions where it may be necessary to disclose information, which may include personal patient data. This would include investigating complaints, making safeguarding referrals for patients whose welfare is at risk, complying with court orders and assisting criminal investigations. It would also risk a confusing data-sharing system, with different rules applying to different organisations.
I know that my noble friend the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, has agreed to talk about this further with the noble Lords, Lord Hunt and Lord Clement-Jones. He wants to meet civil liberties organisations, along with them, to discuss this subject further. However, I regret that the Government cannot accept this amendment. I hope that I have given the noble Lord some reassurance and that he will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I am of course grateful to the noble Baroness but I am not sure that she has entirely dealt with the concerns expressed. Because the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, referred a lot to the GMC, I should just say that, although I am a member of its board, I am not acting here on behalf of the GMC at all.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and I signed the amendment and we both start from the basis of supporting digital transformation in the NHS, but we have always seen that it has to go hand in hand with the safeguards. That is why this debate is so important. We have heard powerful interventions from the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Harris, about why the police Bill had to be amended in relation to police access to patient information. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, referred to the issues for clinicians if they did not feel that the integrity of the patient confidentiality system was sufficiently safeguarded.
The Minister has basically said that we need not worry, because the NHS will only deal with information lawfully, and she went through some of the protections, including the fact that in the Bill there are conditions before the integrated care board can release the information. She referred to the data protection legislation, the GDPR, the special category given to health data about patients and the Caldicott principles. She went on to say essentially that my amendment would cause problems, because it would get in the way of legitimate information being given by the ICB, which might have an impact on patient care quality.
I do not pretend that my amendment is perfect in any way; I have always seen it as a probing amendment. But my concerns remain, and the contrast between the conditions put into the police Bill as compared with the health Bill seem, on the face of it, puzzling and need to be explored further. The Minister has kindly offered me a meeting. I hope that the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Harris, and perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, could also be invited, because they clearly have insights into this. But I am grateful for the offer of the meeting. Obviously we will want to return to this on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 145 withdrawn.
Clause 20 agreed.
Amendment 146 not moved.
Clause 21: Integrated care partnerships and strategies
147: Clause 21, page 29, line 19, at end insert—
“(ba) members appointed by each of the local medical, dental, pharmaceutical and optical Committees, and”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would ensure that primary care professions would have mandated roles within Integrated Care Partnerships with a member appointed by each of the practitioner committees.
My Lords, Amendment 147 concerns the establishment of integrated care partnerships. Although the amendment is specifically about the membership of ICPs, I think that it is appropriate that I comment more generally on ICPs and their role. As I see it, the proposals on integrated care partnerships can be seen as an attempt to try to bind the NHS more closely into a wider system that delivers much wider services contributing to care and well-being.
Particularly at issue is the relationship between the NHS and its partner local authorities. If there is to be a genuine generational shift in thinking that moves the NHS from being a sickness service to one that contributes to the overall well-being of the public, that must be welcomed. Of course, there is a lot to do. At the heart of the issue must be who decides how the money is spent. Who sets the priorities and allocates funding down to place or to service line? If it is just the NHS itself through integrated care boards, that will not work. We have to widen the decision-making to ensure that other voices are heard.
What is missing is some assurance that integrated care partnerships are to have some focus not just on wider well-being but on the need to reduce inequalities and to leverage maximum social value for the area covered. Here, the skeletal nature of the Bill once again gives rise to many more questions than it answers. How are integrated care partnerships to be performance-managed? Will there be an executive? Where will the funding come from? Can the ICP actually deliver any services? Could ICPs be the hub for shared services across the NHS and local authorities?
We have so far heard very little about ICPs; there has been much more emphasis on integrated care boards. Many noble Lords have remarked that the Bill is too focused on the NHS. It is clear that, so far, much energy has been put into the establishment of ICBs and much less into the establishment of integrated care partnerships, which are due to be set up jointly between the NHS and the relevant local authority or authorities. That shows that the building blocks are flawed, because essentially local authorities should have been equal partners in the establishment of integrated care boards. If this was really an integrated Bill about the NHS and adult social care, surely local authorities would be equal partners with the integrated care partnerships on the integrated care boards.
I do not want to go over old ground, but the very fact that NHS England is excluding local authority councillors from the integrated care boards means that it does not want a serious NHS contribution on ICBs from local authorities. I can only take that as the reason for wanting to exclude local authority councillors.
Finally, I will make a general comment about ICPs. The noble Lord, Lord Lansley, raised this earlier. I fail to understand why health and well-being boards are continuing in parallel with the integrated care partnerships. I hope that we might at some stage get an explanation.
That brings me to my amendment. I have concerns about the neglect of primary care and I think that local representative committees have been an important part of the NHS since its foundation. I see no reason why they cannot be assured of some kind of presence on the new integrated care partnerships.
We had a very good debate last week, led by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, on the role of primary care generally in these arrangements. The Minister said that it was important to consult the relevant primary care local representative committees, and that was why there was a provision under new Section 14Z52 to introduce a duty to consult anyone the ICB and its partner trusts considered appropriate when preparing the forward plan. But underlying my amendment is a concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Warner, who on Thursday asked whether the Minister was aware that the influence on key decision-making in the NHS was diminishing for primary care in general and GPs in particular.
In response, the Minister was clearly sympathetic to making sure that primary care was better represented and not dominated by acute trusts. He said that he was open to further discussions in this area and I hope that he will extend those discussions to the membership of ICPs as much as integrated care boards.
The Minister may say that ICP membership is best left to the local level, but I do not think that that is sufficient. We are fully entitled to agree the framework of the new arrangements. Primary care is at risk of being marginalised and that cannot be left to local discretion. I beg to move.
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, Clause 21 is about representation on the integrated care partnerships, and new Section 116ZA specifies who should be on the committee of the partnership. The Bill currently specifies that one member of the ICP should be appointed by the ICB and one by each of the local authorities. The partnership is also free to appoint others. My Amendment 148 requires that one of these additional members must have responsibility for public health—and in that I include public mental health—and one must demonstrate that he or she can represent local voluntary organisations.
It is tempting in a Bill such as this to assume that all the members of these very influential committees should be from the major health organisations or local authorities in the area. However, there are many small community organisations run by charities or not-for-profit groups that play a very valuable role in providing services to local communities in a very cost-effective manner. Unless they are represented at ICP level, it is quite possible that their survival will be threatened by the new arrangements—and we heard in previous debates that they already do feel threatened. I am sure that the Government do not want that.
Similarly, public health has a major role to play in addressing many of the preventable diseases that contribute to health inequalities—and it looks after the tracing of communicative diseases. We saw the value of that recently when it was a great deal more effective than the national test and trace service at tracing the contacts of Covid-positive patients.
So, the work of both groups is very cost effective. If the ICB and the ICP are to use their resources efficiently and fulfil their duties to level up health inequalities, it is important that both groups are represented on the integrated care partnership. I echo the comments from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt: the Bill is quiet on the structure of and representation on the integrated health partnership. Given the duties that it is being asked to perform, it is perfectly reasonable for us to suggest that some of those important duties are properly covered in representation.
My Lords, in speaking in support of my Amendment 150, the issue is simple. We have much to learn about ICPs; I associate myself with the remarks of my noble friend Lord Hunt.
My proposal is that the rules determining the membership of ICPs should be consistent with the rules for membership of ICBs. As the Committee will be aware, it has been agreed, with the amendment made in the House of Commons, that ICBs will not and cannot be controlled by the private sector, in any way. I believe that the Health Minister, Edward Argar, made the point of principle clear when speaking during the Commons Report stage. He said that
“ICBs will not and cannot be controlled in any way by the private sector, as NHS-accountable bodies guided by the NHS constitution and with NHS values at their heart.”
Let us just remind ourselves that the requirement added by the Government to Schedule 2 is that an ICB’s constitution “must prohibit” a candidate being appointed to it if the person making the appointment considers, in the Government’s words in the amendment,
“that the appointment could reasonably be regarded as undermining the independence of the health service because of the candidate’s involvement with the private healthcare sector or otherwise.”—[Official Report, Commons, 22/11/21; cols. 119-61.]
We might not agree with the wording adopted by the Government, as previously discussed, but the principle is accepted on all sides.
So, as with ICBs, we should have a parallel provision for ICPs. In this, I am simply following what the Minister said in relation to ICBs: he wanted
“to put the matter even further beyond doubt.”—[Official Report, Commons, 22/11/21; col. 116.]
I emphasise “even further”. The debate here is not really about the precise wording of any amendment; it is about the principle of extending to ICPs the same protection that, as has already been agreed, should be extended to ICBs.
I look forward to the Minister’s reply. It is possible that, given the way in which ICPs are appointed—on the one hand, by ICBs, which are already protected by the Government’s amendment to Schedule 2, and on the other hand, by local authorities—it might be suggested that the issue simply does not arise and that protection is already there. However, if only to put the matter even further beyond doubt, why not accept my amendment?
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Hunt and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, started what I hoped was going to be a discussion about ICPs.
My first question is this: who was consulted on the structure, membership and role of ICPs? This question has hung over all our debates from the beginning. The Minister has said several times that this is what the NHS wants—well, which bit of the NHS? Who was consulted? As far as we can see, in the role proposed in the Bill, it is not at all clear who was consulted on how ICPs should operate. Indeed, in a previous debate, we asked how this will work with the role of health and well-being boards. That has still not been answered. It is not at all clear why both things are needed; that is the first point. My noble friend Lord Hunt is right that, at the moment, the Bill raises more questions than it answers.
In particular, the idea that local councillors cannot be members is ridiculous and slightly offensive, because the role of the ICPs is to discuss strategy and local health infrastructure and delivery. Their role is absolutely vital.
My noble friend raises a very important point, because councillors can presumably go on integrated care partnerships and health and well-being boards but cannot go on the integrated care boards—but one of their officers can. What is the logic? Can my noble friend help me? So far the Government have given no answer whatever as to why. I know I am going on about this, but it is a fundamental issue: why are local authority councillors not seen as core partners on integrated care? It makes a mockery of the integration. There is no integration: they are setting up two separate boards. I do not know why they are not setting up one integrated board to cover the NHS and the partnership. It defies understanding. Why have they come up with this complicated arrangement and are continuing with health and well-being boards? Can my noble friend help me?
I certainly cannot help my noble friend, but I live in hope that the Minister can. It smacks of a fix. The Minister might not be prepared to say on the Floor of the House what exactly the fix was between the various bits of NHS England and various bits and other parts of the machinery. I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, might know better than the rest of us what that fix was.
I will comment on my noble friend Lord Davies’s amendment. The problem with it is that, as the ICPs are proposed in the Bill at the moment, they will not be spending any money or commissioning services. It is also important that they include the various important parts of our local health delivery systems, including pharmacists, dentists, GPs, social enterprises and the voluntary sector. As I read it, this amendment would exclude hospices, for example—which would be a ridiculous thing to do. So my noble friend might want to rethink that amendment, because it does not necessarily serve the intended interests of the ICPs.
I thank all noble Lords, especially the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for the points they have raised. ICPs will play an important role in co-ordinating services, planning in a way that improves population health and reduces inequalities between different groups. It is right that we consider the best conditions for their success. I was asked where the idea for ICPs came from. It originated from the Local Government Association. We have had extensive consultation with both the LGA and NHS England. To be clear, councillors can sit on ICPs.
They were. Good. I got the answer just in time.
I will turn to Amendment 147, which would mandate a role for a member drawn from each area of primary care. With all amendments relating to the ICP membership, we want to be careful to give space for local areas to find a model of membership that works best for them. As the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham, raised at Second Reading, it is right that in a country as large and diverse as ours, one size will not fit all. Therefore, it is right that local areas should be able to determine the model and membership that best represent their area.
We fully expect primary care professionals to be involved in the work of ICPs. Each partnership will need to involve a wide range of organisations and representatives from across the system, including professionals from primary medical, dental, pharmaceutical and optical backgrounds as they prepare their strategy. The department has published a draft list of representatives for ICPs to consider involving, which includes clinical and professional experts, including those from medical, dental, pharmaceutical and ophthalmic settings. The mechanism of how this is done will be down to local discretion. For example, one ICP may wish to formally appoint certain members, whereas a neighbouring ICP may wish to have an extensive range of consultees, and a third may decide to invite primary care representatives to join a subcommittee instead. We believe it is right that local areas are able to determine the model of partnership that best works for them, and this amendment would prevent that from happening.
A similar argument applies to Amendment 148. While we welcome the contribution of directors of public health and the voluntary, charity and social enterprise sector, I do think that we risk limiting the flexibility of ICPs. We expect public health experts to play a significant role, especially given their role in developing the joint strategic needs assessments that are crucial to guiding all planning, and their role in supporting, informing and guiding approaches to population health management.
Similarly, we expect appropriate representation from the voluntary, charity and social enterprise sectors, which will be able to contribute in respect of a number of different interests and perspectives. A number of noble Lords have spoken very eloquently about the reasons we should involve these sectors. We believe it would not be prudent, for example, to suggest that it may be appropriate for only one person to represent the local voluntary sector on a partnership, given the diversity of their involvement in health and social care.
I turn to Amendment 150, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Brixton, and I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, for her advice on that. I appreciate that the noble Lord might want to prevent anyone who works for, represents, or has a financial interest in a private health and care company, from being a member of an ICP. However, I would draw the noble Lord’s attention specifically to the recent experience of coronavirus, which showed that independent and voluntary providers were a vital part of the health and care picture. This amendment could exclude a significant part of the health and care sector, as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, rightly said. Given their scale and the central role they play, adult social care providers in particular would be potentially useful members of an ICP. It also risks leaving out, for example, dentists, pharmacists, opticians and many others working in primary care, and doctors other than GPs who work both in the NHS and privately.
We expect every ICP to have robust measures to ensure that formal conflicts of interest are managed carefully and transparently. It is also important to note that ICPs, as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, says, are not commissioners, and so will not be making decisions on the allocation of funds. Fundamentally, the ICP is working solely for the interests of people in the area. The experience of the health and well-being boards is helpful here, as they have similar flexibility in membership, and there have not been significant issues with conflicts of interest as they have developed their plans. We really expect the ICP strategy to be rooted in the people and communities they serve, and to be directly informed by the health and well-being boards and the joint strategic needs assessments. We are refreshing the health and well-being boards’ guidance to ensure that there are strong foundations in place at neighbourhood levels that the ICP can consult and build on.
Having said this, I thank noble Lords for their contributions on this important matter. However, as I have explained, we believe that these amendments run contrary to the principles of flexibility and subsidiarity that the Bill is based on, and therefore I hope that noble Lords will not press them.
I am grateful to the Minister. First, I thank my noble friend Lord Davies for his amendment. I think, notwithstanding what the Minister said about some of the technical details, the principle that he put forward is absolutely right: clearly, the consistency with ICBs that he mentioned is really important. I am also very sympathetic with the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and her amendment on the importance of public health and voluntary organisations.
We come here to the principle that some of us continue to be puzzled by the architecture we see before us. The Minister says that this was consulted on and the Local Government Association is fine and dandy about it but, with respect, that is not sufficient in terms of your Lordships and the rigour and scrutiny that we need to put into this legislation. Frankly, as my noble friend Lady Thornton suggests, it looks much more like a fix between representative institutions to preserve the current arrangements as much as possible.
I remain somewhat confused about the structure. The Minister said that health and well-being boards will feed into ICPs, but why? Think about what he said about the role of integrated care partnerships; it sounded to me like the role of the health and well-being boards. I just do not understand the differences. I understand that, in some parts of the country where the ICP will cover a lot of local authorities, there is an argument that you should continue with health and well-being boards at the local level, but I do not see why they cannot be sub-committees of the integrated care partnerships; the Minister referred to that. Why on earth do we in Birmingham need a health and well-being board as well as an ICP? I simply do not understand it.
If the Minister believes that this should all be set out at the local level, why can people decide locally not to have a health and well-being board? He may say, “Ah no, you need a framework”. Our argument is that you need a framework in relation to membership as well. The compromise here might be to set out in legislation, as we will want to do, certain conditions around local governance and then leave it up to the local level. In relation to ICPs, however, we cannot leave it as it is. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 147 withdrawn.
Amendments 148 to 153 not moved.
154: Clause 21, page 30, line 1, leave out “may” and insert “must”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment and others to Clause 21 and Schedule 4 in the name of Lord Farmer would specify that integrated care partnerships consider how to integrate family help services into the provision of health and social care services, as relationships are recognised by research as a 'health asset'. ‘Family help’ is defined in accordance with the Independent Care Review’s starting definition. ‘Family hubs’ are named as key potential sites for delivering integrated paediatric health and family help.
My Lords, I will speak to all four amendments in this group in my name. I remind the Committee that I have already declared my interests, especially as regards integrated care and family hubs.
In Committee in the other place, the Minister, my honourable friend Edward Argar, recognised
“that the system has been calling for two different and important types of integration: integration within and across the NHS to deliver healthcare services within a defined locality, and integration between the NHS and local government and wider partners.”
He went on to say:
“The ICP is intended to bring together health, social care and public health to develop a strategy to address the needs of the area also covered by the integrated care board. If”—
I emphasise “if”—
“the ICP wants to go further, it can also involve representatives from the wider system, where appropriate, such as voluntary and community groups, and social care or housing providers. That will be up to the ICP, and we will welcome locally driven innovation to reflect local circumstances.”—[Official Report, Commons, Health and Care Bill Committee, 16/9/21; col. 332.]
I, too, welcome locally driven innovation to reflect local circumstances, as I will emphasise shortly. However, I am genuinely mystified as to why integration between the NHS and local government and wider partners is voluntaristic in the Bill. My Amendment 154 would exchange “may” for “must” and require integrated care partnerships to include in their strategy a statement of how health-related services could be more closely integrated with health and social care.
My Amendment 155 would specify “family help” as a required subset of health-related services, access to which would include through family hubs. This wording avoids prescribing hubs as the sole means of delivery of and access to services. That said, I have been talking to seasoned health leaders in the Newcastle area who say that the current system is simply not working for vulnerable families. Parents need help navigating what is out there; the community-based access point of a family hub would be a game-changer. The Supporting Families programme, appropriately based in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recommends hubs in its systems guide for this reason. Moreover, the Government have invested significantly—around £130 million to 2024-25 —to develop this badly needed infrastructure and fulfil their 2019 manifesto promise to
“champion Family Hubs to serve vulnerable families with the intensive, integrated support they need to care for children—from the early years and throughout their lives.”
The second action area in the DHSC’s The Best Start for Life strategy ensures that families have access to the support they need through a welcoming family hub. As I have already said in this Committee, as well as perinatal and early years healthcare, local authorities in Essex are delivering more extensive paediatric health services to meet the same need for co-ordination identified in Newcastle. Continence, speech and language, and allergy services, among others, are provided in community settings close to families through their integrated family hubs.
Many such health needs are psychosocial and practical. Addressing them needs a whole-family approach, often through early help commissioned by local authorities. This is what integration should look like. I have always insisted that the design of these family hubs should be flexibly and locally determined, not centrally imposed. but flexibility must be geared towards meeting families’ and children’s needs. One key lesson from children’s centres was that health should be fully integrated from the start.
How that is done should be locally decided, including through consultation with local people. Also, the hub is not the place where everything happens—that would need a vast building—but it is the place through which families can access everything. Other government departments are joining up, integrating their policy goals with those of health, by actively citing the delivery of their priorities in and through family hubs. I could give many examples but, for the sake of time, I will limit myself to a couple.
The Department for Work and Pensions is keen to run its reducing parental conflict programme in family hubs, making access to couple relationship support far easier and less stigmatising for low-income families. The Ministry of Justice is funding a pilot family hub in Bournemouth, which will include a specialist family justice programme that links closely to the family court. Separating parents will be encouraged, early in the process, to use the family hub rather than go down a costly and adversarial court route.
The lack of community-based support is one of the reasons why the promise of the 1989 Children Act has not yet been fully realised, as many pointed out in publications to mark its recent 30-year anniversary. I will return to this. I need to keep emphasising that family help, particularly with relationships, is not at all niche but is erroneously treated as such, hence the need for it to be specified in the Bill. The social determinants of health have already been referred to by other noble Lords, and family-level factors in particular can make or break clinical efforts by healthcare professionals. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that children need “safe, stable, nurturing relationships” to thrive, and UK research, including from UCL, recognises healthy, well-functioning relationships as a “health asset”.
With my Amendments 158 and 167, “family help” in the Bill would mean
“services which improve children’s lives through supporting the family unit and strengthening family relationships to enable children to thrive and keep families together”.
I quote, but in a heavily truncated form, the independent care review’s starting definition, which can be read in its entirety in lead reviewer Josh MacAlister’s The Case for Change. He teases apart how this phrase differs from “family support” in local authority usage, and refers back to Professor Eileen Munro’s 2011 social work reform recommendations and the 2003 and 2009 reviews by the noble Lord, Lord Laming. Both emphasise the need for easily accessible, early help for families if outcomes for children are to improve markedly and tragedies are to be averted in more cases.
I would go even further back than that. In the earliest days of the welfare state, it was recognised that poor family functioning threatens the effectiveness of its other pillars. The ability of health, education and state financial support for families to transform the life chances of children is fundamentally undermined if parents fail to nurture their children emotionally and materially. In 1949, in acknowledgement of this uncomfortable truth, Michael Young, one of the architects of the welfare state, called for child welfare centres. These would, he said, fulfil Beveridge’s principle of the preservation of parental responsibility and deal with the emotional cost to children of high post-war levels of family breakdown.
These began to emerge as family centres in the 1980s. Many were opened by voluntary organisations such as the National Children’s Home, now Action for Children, and many had significant local authority and social services involvement. They helped parents of children of all ages, mainly in disadvantaged areas, ideally before and to prevent the involvement of social services. Family centres were included in legislation—symbolically, given today’s Bill—as part of the then Department of Health and Social Security’s contribution to the Children Act 1989. As family help was a health emphasis in that landmark law, a health Bill is a highly appropriate updating vehicle.
As an aside, in 1994, the National Audit Office, then the Audit Commission, proposed a central role for family centres in developing a more proactive partnership with parents. The commission reported that Section 27 of the 1989 Children Act—the duty to co-operate—was still not progressing well, and emphasised the need for a single point of entry to a range of multiagency support services. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. We can wait until family hubs spread slowly across the country before acknowledging the need for them in legislation, or we can update the Children Act by making it reflect more accurately where more than 30 years of policy-making since then have brought us to.
There is an argument that family hubs are as yet untested, hence the Government funding rollout in only 75 local authorities. However, as I said, the principles that they are based on rest on decades of learning about what families need. We can, and must, refine the model, but hubs—somewhere families can go where someone will be able to help—are a vital missing pillar of our welfare state. I believe that, in time, they will be as indispensable as primary care and schools, because they make such a valuable contribution to their successful functioning.
As it currently stands, the Children Act 1989 is out of date in how it refers to family help in infrastructure. Paragraph 9 of Schedule 2 states that local authorities
“shall provide such family centres as they consider appropriate in relation to children within their area.”
The name “family centres” is too suggestive of a single building, while the phrase “family hub” expresses that this is an access point. It is descriptive, not prescriptive. Many family hubs refer to themselves as children’s centres. Others, such as those in Doncaster, want to shift the culture away from an exclusive focus on the early years, so they do call themselves family hubs.
Moreover, other aspects of paragraph 9 are inappropriate now. Paragraph (c), for example, refers to the family centre being a place where someone will be provided with accommodation while receiving advice, guidance or counselling. That does not happen, hence my rewording to reflect better what the hubs actually do without being overdeterminative. Local needs decided, as I said, in consultation with those who will use them, as well as in the context of integrated care partnership discussions, must be the priority.
Finally, it is with humility that I propose amending the Children Act 1989. Internationally, it is highly respected and much copied. However, the intention of my amendments is to fulfil its key principles: the emphasis on prevention, on keeping children with their families wherever possible and on ensuring that help is available for parents who struggle to nurture their children or provide a safe and stable environment in which they can thrive. I commend these amendments to the Committee.
My Lords, I lend my voice to this important group of amendments. I will explain very briefly why family hubs are so important to many of the big themes that we have been discussing in the Bill so far: prevention, early help and integration in particular.
Family hubs have a very important role to play in improving early intervention services and helping with integration and data sharing, as we discussed earlier, among public services and the voluntary sector. Importantly, as the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, explained, the range of services available in family hubs often includes important services such as children’s health services, which are better delivered in a community setting and integrated with other family health services, rather than delivered in a hospital or somewhere that has a much greater focus on acute care.
The Public Services Committee, on which I served until very recently, produced what I thought was a very important report on vulnerable children recently. It put a national rollout of family hubs at the very core of a national strategy for child vulnerability, proposing that the most deprived communities be prioritised in the early stages of any such expansion. In our report, we set out what fundamental characteristics we thought should be at the heart of every family hub, including employing full-time family co-ordinators, offering addiction and domestic violence services, providing support for parents with poor mental health and organising parenting classes. I say that, because I hope that it illustrates the point I made about integration between health services and broader family support services.
I had the privilege as a committee member—I think the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, was with me—to visit Westminster family hub. I sat down and talked to a young mother with two young children who had a lot of very difficult issues that they were dealing with. The mother explained how the help and support she was getting through the family hub, both with her health issues and those of her children, as well as a wider range of issues, were helping her to keep her head above water. I was so impressed with that family hub and the help and support it was giving, and the way it was integrating statutory services and the voluntary sector.
I will make two other brief but important points. First, family hubs will be working with children from birth to 19. I see that as important, because families face challenges at any time, not just when children are very young, and focusing solely on early years and not helping families with older children does not have the same sort of holistic approach. So it is extremely helpful if, during early years, families build up these trusted relationships with people they meet in family support hubs of the type I have described, rather than sever that relationship when the child reaches the age of five. Parents can continue to contact a familiar team and access that trusted source of information and advice.
My final point to emphasise is the importance of family relationships and relationship support. One key thing about family hubs that is very important is the work they do to prioritise help with relationships—it might be couple relationships, parent-child relationships or even sibling relationships. By being able to deliver counselling and various other programmes to address some of the conflict and breakdown that often affects families in these difficult situations, they often help avoid the whole family reaching crisis point, particularly to the extent that parents have to access the courts to resolve disputes. For all these reasons, I very much support the amendments.
My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Farmer. I declare my interest as a non-executive member of the board of Ofsted. I apologise for not being able to speak at Second Reading for my own family reasons. I echo everything that the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, said. It was a real pleasure to serve with her on the Public Services Committee.
I will praise the Government first, which is always wise. They are showing great commitment to family hubs and I believe that they are committed to the rollout. What concerned me when the committee took evidence from certain members of the Government was a sense of a lack of urgency. Everybody agreed that this was a brilliant idea, but different people from different departments had different ideas about how they should work.
We also took evidence from families, in private and in public. The stories we heard over and again were, as others have alluded to, that, “This could have been prevented if it had been addressed in a joined-up way”. We particularly heard from young children, “I had to tell my story over and again.” Imagine the trauma. This could have been prevented under a different model. These situations did not have to happen.
We have the building blocks to make sure that these situations do not happen, but I do not think the legislative framework is in place to help us to address that. For that reason, I am persuaded by my noble friend Lord Farmer and I am happy to support his amendment.
My Lords, I am very supportive of what the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, said. My colleagues and I have been in this space for 37 years and we have built rather a lot of things in it. It has been very interesting to watch what happened in east London, when this new scheme from a new Government arrived in the middle of a group of communities that already had well-established relationships with very vulnerable families, with a whole range of opportunities emerging. I am sure it was unintentional—it is part of the danger of being overinfluenced by the idea that local authorities will sort this stuff out in the same old usual way that they have tried to before—but it was very disruptive for the social enterprise sector, which was already doing this stuff very effectively, with all the numbers to show it. I will not go into the detail now, but when you look at the detail of what actually happened, the present facilities cost £100,000 more than those being delivered by the social enterprise sector.
These ideas are really important. I am happy to take the noble Lord into this in a lot more detail. I encourage him to spend more time in the detail in some real places to look at the unintended consequences of what happens when new government programmes arrive in communities, with the best will in the world, with an overconfidence in what they think the state can deliver. I am very happy to have a further conversation with the noble Lord, but the detail of the long-term relationships with these families really matters.
My Lords, briefly, I support these amendments, partly from my own experience as a director of social services and Children’s Commissioner, but also because of the points that the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, raised.
I have three key points from history. As a director of social services in the 1980s and 1990s, I offloaded my local authority family centres to the voluntary sector because a survey of parents suggested that they would not come to a service run by the organisation that was likely to take away their children. That was a perfectly rational position and we should listen to what people say about that.
Fast forward to 1999 and parenting orders under the Crime and Disorder Act. We find that compulsion brought parents to the party but, when they actually attended, they found—not so much men but women—that they were being treated and given skills that enabled them to manage children, largely teenage children, much better than they had been. It was a great shame that we used the criminal justice system to bring people to a parenting tuition experience that they should have been given many years before.
This is a final point from history. Michael Gove made me—this was madness on my part, as well as his—children’s commissioner for the failing Birmingham City Council children’s services. Ofsted report after Ofsted report had been telling them of their deficiencies. We found that the group they could not handle, for which they had no effective responses, was teenagers. If we are to make any progress in helping people to help the family unit, we need to address the support given to parents during the teenage years, because they are really struggling, particularly mums.
My Lords, I will briefly say that I am extremely optimistic about family hubs. They answer the challenge to solve the complexity around integration incredibly well. My noble friend Lord Farmer made the point that one cannot think of a better example of what integration looks like than family hubs. The noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, talked clearly and persuasively about the journey they have been on.
My noble friend has made the case for these amendments. Other noble Lords have made the case for updating the legislative framework. I ask the Minister to look carefully at what can be done to bring these laws up to date so that family hubs can thrive, as I believe they will.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for introducing this important debate and to other noble Lords who have supported the amendments before us and spoken about how we can improve the support that families will receive through this Bill. As the Family Hubs Network rightly observes,
“prevention is simply listed in the Bill as one of several commissioning requirements of ICBs with no broad mention of children’s health”.
This group of amendments gives us the opportunity to sharpen this.
As we have heard, the issues that families face, in whatever form or shape, do not exist in isolation. In addition to the impact of financial, housing, social and other pressures, the physical and mental health of a child or young person affects the physical and mental health of not just their parents, but their wider family, and vice versa. It makes common sense to facilitate a healthcare system that is designed and resourced to actively take a holistic approach to the many issues that face children and those who care for them.
I cannot help but feel that the points raised today are not new. We have the experience of Sure Start to show us how effective properly integrated family services can be. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed:
“By bringing together a wide range of early years services for children under 5, Sure Start centres dramatically improved children’s health even through their teenage years.”
Early investment is crucial.
I hope the Minister will be keen to embed change in this Bill to replicate the success that we saw through Sure Start. The first step towards doing this is to make sure that integrated care partnerships are properly required to consider how family help services can be thoroughly integrated into our health and care system, so that family members—no matter what form those families take—are seen as both individuals and groups who have an effect on each other.
I thank my noble friend Lord Farmer and all noble Lords who spoke about their experiences. The creation of integrated care boards represents a huge opportunity to support and improve the planning and provision of services to make sure that they are more joined up and better meet the needs of infants, children and young people.
Before I go into the specific amendments, I make it quite clear, as my noble friend said, that the Government set out in their manifesto a commitment to championing family hubs. We want to see them across the country, but at the same time we must give democratically elected councils the choice to shape how services are delivered, bearing in mind some of the points made by the noble Lords, Lord Mawson and Lord Warner, whom I thank for their experience on this.
The Government agree that it is vital to ensure that ICPs work closely with a range of organisations and services to consider the whole needs of a family when providing health and care support. In preparing the integrated care strategy, the integrated care partnership must involve local Healthwatch and the people who live or work in the area. We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement on bespoke draft guidance, which will set out the measures that ICBs and ICPs should take to ensure they deliver for babies, children and young people. This will cover services that my noble friend considers part of family help.
In addition, the independent review of children’s social care is still considering its definition of “family help”, and the definition published in The Case for Change may well be further refined as a result of ongoing consultation. It would be inappropriate to define the term in legislation at this stage, pre-empting the full findings of the review and the Government’s response to it. Also, it is important that there should be a degree of local determination as to what should be included in the strategies of ICBs and ICPs. In order for them to deliver for their local populations, a permissive approach is critical.
On Amendment 167, we agree that family hubs are a wonderful innovation in service organisation and delivery for families. The great thing about them is how they emerged organically from local councils over the last decade. I pay tribute to my noble friend for the key role he has played in advocating family hubs and bringing this innovation to the heart of government. The Government strongly support and champion the move but we are clear that they have to be effective and successful—they need to be able to adapt to local needs and circumstances. They also need to be able to operate affordably, making use of a diverse range of local and central funding streams.
In both these regards, local democratically elected councils should hold the ultimate decision-making power over whether to adopt a family hub model and how it should function. As such, I regret that we cannot support the amendment, which would place too much prescription on the decisions and actions of local authorities and risk imposing significant new financial burdens. For this reason, I ask my noble friend to consider withdrawing his amendment.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his rather disappointing reply and those who supported these amendments, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, and my noble friend Lady Wyld, for giving such clear definition to the services and the advantages of family hubs. I take to heart the advice from the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, about unintended consequences. I would quite happily talk to him about this. I also take the point from the noble Lord, Lord Warner, that it is nought to 19, not nought to five. Families have so many problems with teenagers, as we see on the streets today, and family hubs can be a non-stigmatising place where help can be got.
I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, about Sure Start. In a way, I have always said that family hubs are building on Labour’s Sure Start centres. However, it is not nought to five but nought to 19—in fact, nought to 25 for children who come out of the care system, et cetera, with special needs.
There might be concern that my amendments attempt inappropriately to set in concrete the policy of family hubs when it is constantly progressing. However, the changes I have described are not just about bringing the latest policy idea into the Bill. Absent of these references to places where families know that they can access help and be connected to the full gamut of local services and support, the Bill will not reflect the overarching direction of travel. Their inclusion requires health to be fully on board, which has not happened in the past, to the detriment of the success of previous policies.
My amendments represent unfinished business from the founding of the welfare state. The family help that they mandate is also essential to the success of the levelling-up agenda and the build back better agenda, which is what this Government will be judged on. I hope that I might be able to speak further with the Minister before Report but, in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 154 withdrawn.
Amendments 155 to 159 not moved.
Clause 21 agreed.
Clause 22: NHS England’s financial responsibilities
159A: Clause 22, page 32, line 29, at end insert—
“223CZA Financial duties of NHS England: the principle of subsidiarity(1) NHS England must exercise its functions in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, and must promote the principle throughout the integrated care system in particular by ensuring that integrated care boards observe the principle.(2) The principle of subsidiarity is that responsibility for deciding how and where to use resources is as far as possible to be delegated to local areas in order to meet local needs and to promote local groups working collaboratively.(3) In doing so, the process and timing of procurement should take account of the benefits of long-term relationships and stable partnerships in delivering sustainable integrated solutions to local health issues.”
My Lords, I have listened carefully to the debate taking place in Committee over the last few weeks with great interest and noted the growing consensus that now exists across this Chamber for transformation and change. These debates have shown the House at its best. It is clear that the Government now have before them an opportunity to transform not only the NHS, its culture and its ways of working but the public sector, much of which is not fit for purpose in this century. People inside and outside these systems know this—listen to those who are leaving for early retirement.
As well as listening, I have been talking to colleagues around the country: those inside the NHS systems; those responsible for the development of the ICSs; and those outside who seek to transform the health and care world and who wish to partner with these systems. I will share a few concerns that I have heard, because they relate to my two amendments, Amendment 159A and 210A.
First, colleagues both inside and outside NHS systems have heard fine words from Governments before about change and transformation in health and care, but they are sceptical. They know that the Civil Service and government systems and mindsets are not fully fit for purpose. The Civil Service’s culture and mindset need to transform; it needs to get interested in what is happening among young entrepreneurs in Bradford, for example. The voluntary and social enterprise sectors need the Government to go beyond fine words and deal with, for example, the situation that my colleagues at the Bromley by Bow Centre have to deal with every day as they navigate—as the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, mentioned last week—41 different funding streams coming up the silos from the Treasury, at enormous cost and wastage of time, as they try to deliver integrated services. If we are to build a more integrated health and care programme, these practical issues are going to get worse—not just in east London but across the country—unless we address this now.
Many years ago, we had a secondee from the Treasury in Bromley who told us how all tax revenue was paid into one bank account. How much does it cost to then spread this out across 41 government departments and programmes, only for it all to be brought back together to address the multiple, complex and interlocking issues that somewhere like Bromley by Bow faces? How much cost does all this add? No one knows. Is it 20%, 30% or more? No wonder we have a productivity crises.
The Single Regeneration Budget programme was an early attempt, some years ago now, by the Civil Service and the Government to bring funding streams together. What lessons have been learned in government and the Treasury from it? I suspect there is no memory of this programme in the system.
There is also a danger of the NHS and public sector culture imposing itself on the voluntary and social enterprise sectors, as they try to innovate and generate new ways of working—what I call putting old men in new clothes. I have seen this in the housing association movement, which I was involved with in the very early days, and in what happened to children’s centres, which were launched in Bromley-by-Bow by a Labour Government, which then unwittingly undermined our integrated model and ways of working with local families.
My colleagues in parts of the country can already see the NHS centrally trying to impose its old processes on them as they innovate, at the very moment there needs to be a two-way street and real learning taking place. The centre needs to learn from the micro, from the innovation platforms we have created, not impose its outdated systems on them. Government needs now to show a clear resolve to transform the culture of the NHS or people will become even more cynical. The whole system and culture desperately needs change, and the way into this is via the micro and practical details.
Yes, it will take time, but first we must be clear about why we are taking these initial early steps and where we are trying to get to. There is a real danger of our Civil Service systems unwittingly deepening poor-quality outcomes and a dependency culture. The centre should see these innovation platforms as a place that can teach the centre, not the other way around. I declare my interests here. We need new behaviours from NHS England, not last-minute processes that want everything tomorrow. The macro needs to learn from the micro; the whole system needs to return to first principles and create an environment which encourages healthy communities.
Levelling up is surely about addressing the UK’s productivity gap, especially in marginalised communities, and one way of doing that is via a healthy and thriving population. It is also the only way to stop the NHS taking an ever-greater percentage of the UK’s GDP. I suggest health is now everybody’s business.
My two amendments fit within this mindset and suggest some first steps that could be taken along this road. Let me now deal with my first amendment, Amendment 159A. True subsidiarity cannot be achieved without delegation of resources and the authority to allocate in a way which will achieve the intended and agreed objectives. For example, systems may wish to ensure that discretionary local services such as community centres, community transport, struggling family support and meals on wheels should be prioritised and sustained ahead of further spend on health capacity, given their key role in supporting ongoing independence and social cohesion and preventing the need for health services.
Place systems may choose to pool delegated resources in order to commission collaborative services at scale, where they jointly agree that they are not best placed to provide such services, and such discussions are already taking place in mature systems. For example, in north-west Surrey we have agreed to jointly commission dermatology services across two place systems. The point is that delegation to place does not work against the development of services at a wider scale where that is appropriate, but the recognition of this needs to come from the place level.
True transformation—true to the spirit of the Bill and the long-term plan and to achieving the intended benefits of integration—cannot be achieved without the freedom to invest those resources in a way which can unlock long-term benefits. This may require speculative investment in some cases, as well as investment in preventive services which do not offer rapid returns but are essential to maintaining the ongoing sustainability of services. We would not expect any of this to be done without due diligence on the capability of place-based partnerships and appropriate levels of holding to account for achievement of improvements and results. The ICS will have a key role in not only ensuring that funds are delegated appropriately but supporting place-based systems to build the capability to manage delegated funds effectively.
We need to make leaps in how health services are now delivered through integrated services and offers to populations, by thinking radically about who can support people best, and in what way, to keep them healthy, look after them at home where possible and provide services which understand people as individuals and meet their needs holistically.
This degree of change in public health, prevention and provision of services needs innovative and broad-based collaborations and partnerships between organisations—health organisations, local authority organisations, VCSE and business—tailored to fit the needs of the place. These relationships are not quick to build; they take time and effort. The work takes years and the impact can be seen only through long-term relationships and stable partnerships. For this to succeed, the ICS will need to embrace the principle of subsidiarity, delegating meaningful responsibilities and accompanying budgetary responsibility to place level. This may mean that standard procurement cycles and processes do not immediately bring the outcomes that the Bill envisages. More innovative processes and timings may be needed to ensure that the benefits brought through long-term relationships and stable partnerships are given time to be achieved.
Let me now deal with Amendment 210A. In general, NHS bodies do not currently make best use of their local voluntary community, social enterprise and faith sectors when procuring services to achieve key health outcomes, especially in prevention and early intervention services. This is all well understood but, somehow, we never seem to get beyond one-off experiments or short-term, time-limited initiatives. By contrast, the best local authorities have been procuring and partnering with their VCFS for many years, though this has become more difficult with recent funding pressures. There is an opportunity, therefore, for health colleagues to learn from their local authority colleagues in the ICS on best practice in this regard.
With NHS vacancy rates at their highest levels, together with waiting lists for treatment, now is the time to take a whole-system approach and look more collaboratively across the local community. There is also a strong value-for-money argument. Simply waiting for people to become seriously ill, which is what is happening in practice at the moment with regard to many mental health services—but not by design—and could equally be applied to services for struggling families, leads to very poor outcomes and is very expensive. Using VCFS organisations and others, with a combination of staff and local volunteers to create a coherent health-oriented rather than illness-oriented approach, will pay dividends, but only if there is real intention and focus over a sustained period of time. This is a long-term play, not a quick win, but vital none the less.
Traditional models are not working for the groups which can offer most value. Local charities and social enterprises tend to be funded on a hand-to-mouth basis using grants, so most cannot permanently invest in their services. This is despite a huge growth in charitable giving from the public, directed in the main at the NHS.
In north-west Surrey, we are looking at how we can give similar prominence to local charities supporting areas of deprivation and communities in need, but more needs to be done to enable charities and voluntary sector groups to be assured of ongoing funding to provide core services. Keeping such VCS groups active is essential to achieve insight into the needs of communities. There are innovative approaches such as Tribe, a platform developed by a technology business- person, Richard Howells, simply because he had become so frustrated by the inabilities of the NHS and care services to deal with his own mother’s care needs. Richard did not write a research paper; he created a practical solution, which is pretty impressive. When he shared this practical solution with the NHS centrally, there was a lot of interest and fine words but, in actual detail, no follow through.
We now need to allow these insights at the most granular level to inform the commissioning and targeting of services. Without this, we will not be able effectively to respond to specific areas of inequality or health risks, leading to ill health and pressure on services. The existing models of voluntary sector support need to be developed to enable and promote micro- enterprise creation on a far greater scale. This both protects the quality of services and enables individuals to gain training, support and income. It has the potential to open up a currently untapped resource of care support, which is critical in places such as north-west Surrey, where community care staff vacancies run at around 40%.
Employment and volunteering are themselves key determinants of well-being. Place-based systems will wish to use their spending power to leverage this benefit and invest directly in local employment, where it can be demonstrated to be the most effective use of resources. In north-west Surrey, we have achieved a virtuous cycle of supporting furloughed airline workers during lockdown through recruiting them into the hospital workforce, supporting the delivery of services and well-being of clinical staff, and reducing the risk of those individuals developing physical or mental health problems through inactivity and stress.
I can see that I am being told that I am running out of time, but I need to share two final things about the digital world. I am sorry about this, but I think it is important.
Richard Howells, who I have mentioned, is a successful data engineering entrepreneur, who, as I said, found it hard to arrange care for his elderly mother. I suggest that the Government need to action the NHS to look in detail at what Richard Howells is doing. His project has recently been awarded £23 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation. A second data platform has been developed by Amir Hussain of Yeme Architects in Bradford. It uses the internet to get people off internally focused social media platforms and brings them together in communities to do things.
I tabled these amendments and have put this on the record because they are about the detail and practicality. The opportunity is there for transformation, but the worry out in our communities is: will this Government, like others before them, be serious about transformation or will it be about old men in new clothes?
I now call the noble Lord, Lord Howarth of Newport, who will be taking part remotely.
My Lords, I support the spirit of these amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, in his working life at Bromley-by-Bow and more recently in north-west Surrey, and in his very full speech, has demonstrated the significance to healthcare of the principle of subsidiarity, the freedom to innovate and the mobilisation of community resources. If ICSs are to mobilise the full power of place this must indeed be a governing principle.
Although there might be definitional issues to clarify, I particularly applaud the ambition expressed in Amendment 159A that resources should be used at local discretion to promote collaboration by local groups, and that the procurement processes should take account of the benefits of stable partnerships. How could anyone dissent from that? Yet, the experience of so many non-clinical and VCSE organisations is of chronic financial instability and of promising work being aborted because of policy discontinuity.
I will give one instance of damaging discontinuity of funding. The Alchemy Project used dance as a form of early intervention in psychosis. The project was developed jointly by Dance United, South London and Maudsley, and King’s College London. Two cohorts of participants were drawn from young people in south London boroughs where the rate of psychosis is very high. With no previous experience of dance, after four weeks they performed a specially commissioned piece at the Shaw Theatre and Sadler’s Wells. Academic evaluation demonstrated clinically significant improvements in well-being, communication, concentration and focus, trust in others and team working. The project helped participants to develop relationships with their peers and restore relationships with their families. The Alchemy Project had to be abandoned, however, when a fragile consortium of funders did not renew its funding. ICBs and ICPs will need to be less fickle and less prodigal, bolder in supporting innovation, and more consistent and farsighted in their relationships with their providers and communities.
My Lords, I also support these amendments. Earlier in Committee, I described the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, as
“a man of infinite resource and sagacity, an entrepreneur and … a great achiever”.—[Official Report, 18/1/22; col. 1575.]
I am sure that, if noble Lords are not convinced, these amendments will further endorse my description.
I now add that the noble Lord is a very determined reformer. He has told us how the present systems serving the public are not fit for purpose. The Government are trying through this Bill to remedy that through greater integration and other measures. It was Edmund Burke who said that, if you want to preserve something important, you need to be prepared to reform it. Our systems are important and need reforming.
Amendment 159A is about the financial duties of the NHS in England and solidarity. In the previous debate, I mentioned Bromley by Bow, as the noble Lords, Lord Mawson and Lord Howarth, said. Bromley by Bow was the forerunner of other imaginative, ground-breaking and huge entrepreneurial schemes in the north of England, London and Surrey. The examples are breathtaking but they cost energy, hard work, original thinking and money. It is sad that these scarce resources are dissipated by the convoluted systems that we, the nation and the Government impose on burgeoning and, at the beginning, fragile schemes. However, Bromley by Bow is not one of these. It is well established but not secure due to having to navigate 41 different funding schemes, as the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, said. Huge effort and wasted time are spent trying to integrate these schemes for the use of a single neighbourhood centre.
I strongly support Amendment 210A. The noble Lord is right: he paints a compelling picture of the future, which will be realised only if our public health, prevention and provision of services collaborate in partnership with local organisations. They understand the history, dynamics and strengths that permeate their local place—their neighbourhood. The noble Lord is also right that, to thrive, ICSs will have to embrace the principle of solidarity, which is the essence of a successful project; that includes the financial duties of NHS England.
I have lived in my community from the age of five. In another debate, I said that my father, a GP, knew his patients inside and out. I, too, know my villagers inside and out in a different way. I treasure the relationships I have made with local organisations. We fight for every shop and organisation that is threatened. We welcome newcomers. We have produced a pocket list of 45 organisations with a mantra on the front saying, “Newick”—my village—“is here for you”. It goes on to say that there is so much going on in our village and there is something for everyone, whether you would like a new hobby, to make new friends or just give something back to the community. Get active, get involved and get happy.
I strongly support Amendment 210A, which urges local providers in particular to be prioritised. I certainly support that. This is not about get-rich-quick developers, who have no regard for the nature of the community in which they are going to build, building bricks and mortar. In our village, we fight for employment, which is absolutely critical in local communities. It reduces traffic problems and helps to mitigate global warming. Above all, it goes some way to generating happy communities. It generates the Government’s intention to make place an important component of a stable community. Surely that is what we all want.
My Lords, we on these Benches said everything we needed to say on this matter in support of the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, when we had the substantial debate. I do not know when it was—last week, I think. These two amendments flow from that. We probably could have taken them then, but I am sure that the Minister will have useful things to say.
My Lords, we return to the very important theme of subsidiarity, to which the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, has brought us in both his amendments and his powerful speech, born of his immense experience in the real world.
I will begin with Amendment 159A, if I may. One of the main reasons for introducing this Bill was to ensure that existing collaboration and partnership working across the NHS, local authorities and other partners was built on and strengthened. This relates especially to the framing and monitoring of assessments and strategies. We intend for these assessments and strategies to be a central part of the decision-making of ICBs and local authorities. That is why we are extending an existing duty to ICBs and local authorities to have regard to the relevant local assessments and strategies. Furthermore, the integrated care board and local authorities will both be directly involved in the production of these strategies and assessments through their involvement with both the integrated care partnership and the health and well-being boards. As a result, they have a clear interest in the smooth working of the ICP.
More widely, there are already several mechanisms to ensure that ICBs and local authorities will have regard to the assessments and strategies being developed in their areas. First, health and well-being boards have the right to be consulted by ICBs and give NHS England and ICBs their opinion on whether the joint forward plans take account of the joint local health and well-being strategy. Likewise, as part of its annual assessment of ICBs, NHS England must consult each health and well-being board on how well the ICBs have implemented the relevant joint local health and well-being strategies.
There are what one might call insurance policies embedded in these arrangements. Each ICB must also include in its annual report a review of the steps it has taken to implement any relevant joint local health and well-being strategy. It must also consult the health and well-being board when undertaking that review. Finally, NHS England has formal powers of intervention if an ICB is not complying with its duties in any regard. Putting all this together, we think that it is sufficient to ensure that ICBs will have regard to both ICP and health and well-being board plans.
The emphasis is on collaboration. Implicit in that concept is the two-way street on the sharing of ideas and exemplars that the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, called for and illustrated in his examples. Given the strong collaborative measures in the Bill and the strong foundations of collaborative and partnership working across the NHS, local authorities and other partners on which this Bill is built, we do not think that further provision is required. We would expect an ICP to resolve disagreements through discussion and joint working rather than additional, potentially burdensome procedures.
Amendment 210A brings us once again to the role of non-statutory organisations in helping to create and sustain healthy communities. I want to stress straightaway that the Government hugely value the contributions of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors to the health and well-being of the nation. We recognise their important role in supporting the health and care system.
The Government fully expect that commissioners will also recognise this contribution and role going forward. This role will be particularly important in efforts to recover performance and move beyond a purely reactive service to building a sustainable and personalised health and care system, something the non-statutory sector is uniquely placed to offer. I think the lessons learned, so well described by the noble Lord, Lord Warner, in the previous set of amendments, are widely accepted nowadays.
NHS England and NHS Improvement recently published the proposed ICS Implementation Guidance on Partnerships with the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector, which outlines the importance of the VCSE sector as a key strategic partner for ICBs and provides proposed guidance on how VCSE partnerships should be embedded once the new system is in place.
Membership of the ICP is flexible, as we have previously discussed, and could well include organisations from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. We expect many will. The integrated care partnership will be tasked with developing a strategy to address the health, social care and public health needs of its system, which will be another important way to bring the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in. That is why I am confident in saying to the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, that I do not think this amendment is necessary.
It is our intention that the provider selection regime will allow commissioners greater flexibility to arrange services in a way that adds value for the patient, taxpayer and local population. One of the predominant aims of the provider selection regime is to allow commissioners and providers greater certainty and continuity of service provision to improve partnerships between providers, reduce disruption and promote sustainable long-term and integrated collaborations between providers from across the system.
As part of NHS England’s consultation and development of the provider selection regime proposals, it set out suggested key criteria for decision-making which a relevant authority would need to take into account. We intend to include them in the new regime. They will include, among other things, the importance of innovation, social value, the sustainability of services, access to healthcare and reducing inequalities.
More broadly, we recognise the importance of places. We expect each integrated care board to agree its place-based structures as part of the process of agreeing its constitution. The integrated care board will also have to work closely with health and well-being boards as they have the experience as place-based planners. The integrated care board will be required to have regard to their assessments and strategies.
This has been a helpful debate on an important matter. I hope I have been able to reassure noble Lords that we are already taking a sensible approach in the provisions in the Bill and that making amendments to it is not necessary. I therefore hope the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, will feel able to withdraw his Amendment 159A and not to move Amendment 210A when it is reached.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for those helpful thoughts and reflections. First, on NHS England, we need to be very sure that a two-way street is established, because I worry that systems such as this are not learning organisations—we know this from experience—and they now need to become such if they are really to embrace an environment that is about innovation and more entrepreneurial activity. I put that on the record. We will watch what happens; I am sharing with noble Lords what is actually happening now, live, in some of these services around the country as they try to establish new ways of working.
I pass on apologies from the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. They have supported these amendments but, because of the change in the timetable, were not able to be with us today. This debate is being watched around the country, and I am aware of a very interesting dialogue going on with people both inside and outside the system. We should all be encouraged by that and should build on it.
With regard to the Report stage and to these two amendments and my earlier amendment, my colleagues and I, with others in the system, will reflect on these discussions. We will, I hope, talk further with the Minister and other colleagues and think about what the next steps might be. For now, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 159A withdrawn.
Clause 22 agreed.
Amendment 160 not moved.
Clauses 23 to 25 agreed.
Clause 26: Care Quality Commission reviews etc of integrated care system
Amendments 161 and 162 not moved.
UEFA Euro 2020 Final
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made with football authorities towards addressing the (1) safety, and (2) security, implications of the report by Baroness Casey of Blackstone An independent Review of events surrounding the UEFA Euro 2020 Final ‘Euro Sunday’ at Wembley, published on 3 December 2021.
My Lords, I begin by putting on record again our appreciation of the sterling work of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, on this review. The Government recognise the critical importance of the safety and security implications of her report. We are now working with relevant parties, including the police and the football authorities, to consider not only those implications but the report’s recommendations in full. We are committed to ensuring that the UK continues its world-leading reputation for holding safe and successful major international sporting events.
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, described the crowd events at Wembley’s Euro final as a “near miss” for fatalities and life-changing injuries and said that we need a national conversation about kicking racism and hooliganism out of football. Can the Minister tell us what plans the Government have for taking forward her six recommendations in full to improve safety, security and behaviour at football matches? Why did the Government not use the recent opportunity of a police Bill to incorporate new tailgating and drug-disorderly football banning orders, and to create a new offence of endangering public safety, as the report recommended?
My Lords, we acknowledge that the review shows that these events were foreseeable, but they were unprecedented. As in the previous exchange we had on this, it is important to underline that the blame lies squarely with the minority of supporters who caused the disorder and aimed to spoil the day for everybody else. It is clear that in future, we must ensure that the safety and security arrangements for an event such as this are in line with its national significance. The review was commissioned by the FA, so the Government do not intend to respond formally as the Government; the key thing is taking action. We are working with partners to ensure that we learn from it and that the recommendations are appropriately implemented. I pay tribute to the noble Lord for his recommendations on the online abuse of footballers, which were taken forward in the police Bill.
My Lords, will the Government go a little further on their attitude to some of the recommendations in the report, predominantly that the stewards—the people inside provided by football to look after its own—were insufficient in number and not properly trained for this event? Could not the Government take this forward with the police to ensure that we have security at such events and do not overload our police forces?
As I said, we are working with the police on the implications of the noble Baroness’s report. Work is also being undertaken by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to gather evidence on stewarding. Once that is concluded, the Government will work with it and other relevant parties to see how the findings are applicable not just to football but across the events industry.
My Lords, this event brought shame and disgrace on our country as a whole, as well interfering with the championship game. The Minister mentioned the involvement of the police. How close have the police so far got to identifying who was behind this event? You do not produce 6,000 people storming a national football stadium very easily, so someone must have organised it. Are the police pursuing that line of interest?
My Lords, the noble Lord is right that some of the actions that we saw on 11 July were shameful. The report is clear that the responsibility for the reckless and criminal behaviour lies with the shameful individuals who perpetrated it. The police have made 39 arrests and the investigations are continuing. I am afraid I cannot give more of an update on those police inquiries beyond that, but action is being taken by the police in this matter.
My Lords, in the discussions that the Government are having with the football authorities, could they also have one with the EFL about the appalling way it seems to be communicating its attitude towards the future of Derby County Football Club, which was one of the founding members of the Football League? The EFL seems to be deliberately withholding information. Perhaps one way out of this would be to make it subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
My Lords, the Government continue to engage closely with the EFL about Derby County. Ultimately it is for the EFL, the administrator and the club to resolve the issues that remain in order to ensure the survival of the club, but the Government have urged pragmatism from all parties to find a solution. Everyone wants to see one of the founding members of the Football League continue this season and beyond under appropriate ownership, and openness and transparency are a key part of that.
My Lords, the Minister will recall that on 6 December he answered a Private Notice Question on the excellent report by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, when I declared my interest as vice-president of the charity Level Playing Field. Particular recommendations were made in respect of disabled supporters, disabled access to the stadium and the disgraceful way in which thugs effectively overran them. Would he be willing to meet representatives of Level Playing Field—the chairman, the chief executive and perhaps me—to discuss what the next steps should be?
The noble Lord is right that the way in which football fans with disabilities, their friends and those accompanying them were tailgated and exploited by people intent on doing disorder was shameful. I think a meeting with my honourable friend the Sports Minister would be more appropriate. I am sure he would be very happy to do that, and I will follow that up with the noble Lord.
My Lords, I am sure the Minister agrees that the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, deserves great credit for the speed with which she produced her thorough report, which is very practical and is to be taken seriously. But, my goodness, since then it seems to those of us who have been following this that very little action has been taken on her recommendations, yet incidents continue to happen at football grounds, as has been reported in recent games. Could the Minister use his good offices to encourage the Football Association and others to address the report, not just thoroughly but with some speed?
I am happy to echo what the noble Lord says about not only the speed but the thoroughness with which the noble Baroness undertook this work. The report’s recommendations are extremely valuable and are being taken forward by the relevant parties. The Football Association has apologised for its role in what happened on 11 July, as is right. The Government are working with the FA, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, the police and others to make sure that they are taking the appropriate action on the recommendations that relate to each of them.
My Lords, I declare my interest as a director of Carlisle United Football Club. When the Minister refers to working with the football authorities, will he bear in mind that on an average weekend more people attend Football League matches than attend Premier League matches? When the Government are working with the football authorities, will they constantly remind them of that fact?
The noble Lord is right and he makes an important point. The vast majority of people who enjoy playing and watching football do so peacefully and bring great enjoyment and health benefits to themselves and those around them. It was a minority of people on 11 July who marred what should have been a very special day for football fans, not just in this country but around the world, and it is right that the blame for what happened lies squarely on them.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, talked about how important it is to make sure that we save Derby County Football Club. My club is Millwall, but I have been to Derby County many times, both to the old Baseball Ground and to Pride Park. It is a fabulous club; it needs our support, and the Government need to press the Football League to save it.
My Lords, we are seeing increasing pressure being put on match day stewards, who are paid as little as £9 per hour to control football crowds, while police presence in many grounds is decreasing. Is this the way to face off the increasing challenge of rising violence across all four divisions? Surely we need an increase in police presence. Does the Minister agree?
The noble Baroness’s review clearly stated that many stewards showed huge bravery and courage that day. The action taken by them and by the police in difficult and unprecedented circumstances may have saved lives, so we should be grateful to them all. An unprecedented number of police were deployed to the stadium, but the noble Baroness’s report makes some important recommendations for the police, for stewards, for the FA and for others, and we are making sure that they are all taken forward, as they should be.
Electric Vehicle Charge Points
To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they have removed the requirement for there to be an electric vehicle charge point in all existing non-residential properties with more than 20 parking spaces; and what assessment they have made of the implications of this change for their net zero target.
My Lords, we believe that a more ambitious and tailored approach is needed for existing non-residential car parks. We have already progressed this policy and are currently analysing feedback from a further consultation on the future of transport regulatory review. The noble Lord asks why proposals have been removed. I am unclear as to where he feels they have been removed from.
My Lords, I got this information from the Government’s Consultation Response: EV Charge Points in Residential and Non-residential Buildings, dated November 2021. The executive summary says:
“The Government will not introduce the proposed requirement for one charge point in all existing non-residential properties with more than 20 parking spaces.”
To me, that means that they have cancelled the need to put charging points in existing car parks. Maybe they do not think charging points are necessary; maybe we do not need electric cars. It is a bit of a confusing policy.
I understand why the noble Lord might have been a little confused by that sentence. It is not the case that we are not going to do it at all; rather, we are not going to do that specific proposal. The feedback we received from our original consultation back in 2019 suggested that the proposals were not ambitious enough and that details on the implementation and the impact were unclear. We agreed that perhaps we could be more ambitious. That is why we consulted again on the future of transport regulatory review, which closed on 22 November. It sought further views on this topic. Proposals in this area are absolutely still under consideration; we just want them to be as ambitious as possible.
My Lords, sequentially over the past 10 years, I have been the owner of two hybrid cars but I am anxious to buy an all-electric car. I have yet to find one that can get to and from my home in Wiltshire without having to be recharged. What plans do the Government have for installing electric charge points within the Palace of Westminster and particularly Royal Court?
Oh, my Lords. I am well aware that several noble Lords have repeatedly requested EV charging facilities at your Lordships’ House. The Government clearly cannot direct the powers that be in your Lordships’ House to install a charging point, but this member of the Government is disappointed by the lack of leadership.
My Lords, public charge points often do not work. There is a multiplicity of apps and payment methods; tariffs can be opaque. Does the Minister accept that EV charging needs to be as seamless as buying petrol? Will she accept that the Government must urgently bring much-needed order to our chaotic public charging system?
I do not quite accept that the system is chaotic. It is definitely growing and it is incredibly innovative, but that is why the Government consulted on things such as opening up public charge point data; improving the reliability about which the noble Lord speaks; streamlining payment methods, which is incredibly important; and increasing price transparency, so that people know how much they are going to be charged. We will publish the response to this consultation very soon, and we will lay legislation this year.
My Lords, only last Saturday, I was standing in a car park trying to download yet another app, only to discover that the EV charger was not working—again. Achieving net zero requires all drivers to switch to EVs, not just those of us with space to install our own charging points. SMMT figures show that only one new public charger is being installed for every 52 new electric vehicles registered, and that ratio has been getting worse. What urgent plans do the Government have to improve this record and to ensure that charge points are properly maintained and accessible with an ordinary credit or debit card?
I will not repeat what I have said about the consultation. Certainly, payment and reliability will all be parts of our response to that. The noble Baroness will know that 80% of charging happens at home; the Government are therefore supporting people to put in their own chargers at home where they are able to. For those who are unable to, we are very much focused on on-street charging near homes and offices, and we are providing funding for that to happen.
The noble Lord is stretching my technical knowledge at this point. I am sure that those things are being considered. Obviously, the Government are working closely with the industry on the design of charging points, because we want to make sure that they are accessible and do not obstruct the pavement—and we have seen much innovation in the area.
It is good that the Minister acknowledges the problem of reliability, which is a particular issue on the motorway network. Does the suite of her responses include increasing fines for companies when their charge points are out, which is all too common? They need a greater incentive to comply.
That, of course, is a very serious consideration: we need to make sure that companies do not just stick up a charge point and then leave it there unmaintained and, therefore, unreliable. We will be considering all options as we respond to the consultation.
My Lords, further to the question from my noble friend Lord Geddes about these premises being non-residential and having at least 20 car parking spaces, I realise the difficulties, but I wonder—particularly given that, as the Minister will know, we are a little hard up at this end—whether in her beneficence she might be able to ask her department to assist with the financing of the necessary chargers for their Lordships.
The Competition and Markets Authority reported last July and urged the Government to intervene in the electric car charger market to prevent what it described as “charging deserts” and increase availability in locations outside London that remain underserved. As I understand it, across the UK there are huge regional inequalities in the number of available charging points. In London, there are 80 charging devices per 100,000 people, but in Yorkshire, for example, there are fewer than 20 per 100,000. What steps are the Government taking to support new charging points in areas that are currently lacking? If the answer is “not very much”, it just shows that the Government’s levelling-up slogan is just that—a slogan—and no more.
The Government encourage every local authority to look at its local needs. We have a fund of £20 million per year to which 135 local authorities have already applied. That fund is there to put chargers in local areas where there are fewer publicly available chargers and there will be a local EV infrastructure fund launching soon.
Will the Minister return to the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, that this is a retrograde step? If we are talking about levelling up, we need to level up the relationship between the electric motor and the petrol engine. Will she tell us again why what the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, says is happening and why she is saying it is not happening?
It will be happening! The original proposal, we felt, was not good enough; indeed, stakeholders agreed it was not good enough, so there will be proposals for existing non-residential car parks. We will consider carefully how we can make those as ambitious as possible and make sure they have the impact we want to see.
Racism in English Cricket
My Lords, the Government are clear that racism has no place in cricket, just as it has no place in any sport or in our society at large. We welcome the steps taken so far by the England and Wales Cricket Board and the new chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford. These steps are only the beginning. We now expect to see clear and sustained evidence of cultural change across the sport resulting from them. We will continue to hold the ECB to account directly on this and reserve the right to take further measures if necessary.
I thank the noble Lord for that reply. I join him in saying that the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, is really doing us all a service here in taking this on. Will the Government give us an assurance that this will not be something that sticks with cricket, but that they will look wider and make sure that all sport learns from what is found out, and also that cricket will have to learn the lessons learned in other sports? Otherwise, we are in danger of having small reports and struggles repeating themselves over and over again.
I certainly agree with the noble Lord about the important role being played by the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford. Just as in the previous Question about football, it is a commendation of your Lordships’ House that it is from this House that work to deal with these important issues is coming. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Patel, held a briefing with interested Peers on Monday, ahead of this Question, to update them on the work he is doing. He made very clear that, while his focus is on sorting out the problems in Yorkshire, he is drawing on the experiences of people from other sports, and the lessons that he is learning and the actions he is taking have implications for other sports and, indeed, other parts of society.
My Lords, does the noble Lord have an opinion about the abysmal performance of the Middlesex chairman in front of a House of Commons committee in the last few days when he displayed all the racism that too many white people at senior levels in cricket in this country seem to adhere to?
I agreed with Ebony Rainford-Brent who called Mr O’Farrell’s comments at the Select Committee “painful” and “outdated.” I am glad to see he has apologised for them, but I share the dismay of many in hearing them. I think it also underlines the important point that racism takes many forms: it can be a sin of commission as well as of omission. It is good if people are focusing on the barriers that might be holding people back from participating in society, but it is completely wrong to stereotype people on the basis of their race or ethnicity, and that is why it was so dismaying to hear what he said yesterday.
My Lords, I declare my interest as a member of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and Middlesex, and others. Does my noble friend acknowledge that the sweeping changes that have been made at Yorkshire County Cricket Club under the direction of the noble Lord, Lord Patel, indicate the sort of measures that may have to be taken more widely in sport to ensure that potential players, spectators and lovers of sports can find a real welcome when they are involved, either as players or as members?
Like my noble friend, I was impressed by the summary given by the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, of the work that he has undertaken since he became the chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club nine weeks ago. He outlined the many actions that are being taken, and I agree that these will have a wider application for other cricket clubs and other sports.
My Lords, has the Minister seen the reports that many county cricket clubs charge huge amounts of money for young players who have been identified as having particular skills to go into training programmes? He will know that there is a concern at the higher reaches of cricket that there is a dominance by pupils from public schools. Does he not think that the ECB needs to take action to make sure that these training programmes are open to everyone?
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is right: there are many barriers which hold people back, and the Government are working with Sport England and other agencies to dismantle those barriers and make sure that everybody has the opportunity to participate in sport, whoever they are and wherever they come from. There is obviously work for the ECB to do, and lessons are being learnt in Yorkshire at the moment, but the noble Lord is right that these barriers go beyond matters of race.
My Lords, Yorkshire has shown clearly how racism had affected cricket in the past and, thanks to the effort of the noble Lord, Lord Patel, that things are now improving. I would like to know what is being done in youth clubs and schools to ensure that people from diverse communities are aware that racism should not be a bar in pursuing a career in cricket?
Over the last four years, Sport England’s investment in the ECB has focused on equality and diversity, with a commitment to fund, for instance, its south Asian action plan and its south Asian female activators project, to give just two examples of how it is encouraging people from different backgrounds to take their rightful places and reach their full potential in this sport.
My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, which has a proud record of inclusion and cultural and ethnic diversity going back over 60 years, starting with the great Basil D’Oliveira, followed by his son and this grandson, all of whom have been associated with the club. The chairman is from an ethnic minority background and his insistence on good governance and diversity is a model that other counties should follow, and the club is certainly well ahead of the ECB guidelines. Could the Government have some conversations with Mr Hira to see what Worcestershire is doing right and how others can learn from it?
The noble Lord is right that we should point to the many happy examples of people who are getting it right and who are working very earnestly and very hard to make sure that people from all backgrounds are able to enjoy cricket, whether as players or spectators. In his capacity as president of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, my noble friend Lord Naseby came to the briefing with the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and we are always happy to point to examples of clubs that are getting it right, and from which others can learn.
My Lords, we have heard this afternoon a litany of responses which focus on racism, and rightly so. For our part, it is very frustrating to see the responses of senior people in cricket, and others across the sport, who are determined to bury their heads in the sand on this issue. The announcement that Clare Connor will lead a review into dressing room culture in the men’s and women’s games is very welcome, but that must be only one part of the sport’s response. Yesterday the chair of Glamorgan County Cricket Club noted that his own club’s efforts to promote diversity were only possible after years of work to make the club financially sound. What work is the government department doing with the ECB and the clubs themselves to ensure that schemes such as those promoted by Glamorgan get off the ground and start to produce the results and make the fundamental changes that cricket needs?
As I said, we are watching the ECB closely and reserve the right to take further action if we think that is needed. But since November, the ECB has made some structural developments for long-term cultural change, which is what we need to see, including publishing its plan for diversity and inclusion. It has also committed to forming a new anti-discrimination unit by June this year. The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which was established in March 2021, has opened a call for evidence and will publish a report in the summer this year, examining all the issues relating to race and equity in cricket. We are glad to see that work is being done.
My Lords, I am sure the Minister would like to congratulate Show Racism the Red Card on taking on Monty Panesar as a patron and a very active member of that charity, working in schools to ensure that the message of anti-racism gets through. However, I feel that the Government may very well have to do more, because those remarks made by the Middlesex chairman yesterday, to which my noble friend has already referred, were utterly appalling and speak of deep-seated bigotry and bias; he clearly thought that what he said was reasonable, while I am sure everyone in this House believes that it was not.
I am very happy to extend my congratulations to Show Racism the Red Card. There are many organisations, individuals and role models who are doing sterling work in highlighting the issues that have been faced by so many people for far too long, pointing to the way forward and making sure that people are inspired to enjoy playing or watching their preferred sport to the best of their abilities.
Ukraine: Minsk II Protocol
My Lords, the Government support the Minsk protocols to deliver peaceful resolution to the conflict in full respect of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have condemned Russia’s aggressive acts and are working closely with our allies and partners to hold Russia to the commitments it signed up to freely, including the Helsinki Final Act, the Minsk protocols and the Budapest memorandum.
I thank the Minister for that reply. The problem is that Russia does not see NATO as a defensive alliance—rather, it sees it as a group of countries, some of which are openly hostile to Russia, refusing to give any security guarantees while expanding eastwards to Russia’s borders. Unfortunately, the memories of NATO’s bombings of Tripoli and Belgrade are fresh. We are facing a very different series of global threats since the Atlantic alliance was formed in 1949. President Macron talked about a new security framework for Europe; perhaps this is something Her Majesty’s Government should think about to secure lasting peace for future generations.
My Lords, as the noble Lord will be aware, NATO is a defensive alliance. It was interesting to hear in the recent Statement of my right honourable friend the Defence Secretary—this is relevant to what we are discussing—that only 1/16th of the Russian border is actually shared with a NATO country. NATO is a defensive alliance, and it remains so. It is serving its purpose. We are working in unity, because what is required now is not just unity of words —it is unity of purpose and, indeed, unity of action.
My Lords, I have just been to a meeting with the Ukrainian ambassador, where we discussed the Budapest memorandum. These were assurances given by the Russian Federation in 1994 that it would respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, which, of course, included the borders with Crimea. Putin has reneged on this. Should the international community not come together and condemn this bad faith from Putin and now the Russian Federation, and do it both at the United Nations and elsewhere?
My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that what we have seen from Russia is pure aggression. We should not forget that it is an occupying power in Crimea. We have come together; we are acting together within the context of the NATO alliance. My noble friend importantly points to discussions at the UN, and I assure him that we are engaging directly with partners but also bilaterally with Russia.
My Lords, the Normandy format is still of great importance. Are there any British officials taking part in the talks in Paris today under the Normandy process? The Minister knows that part of the Minsk II agreement is over the area of disputed territorial lines. The Prime Minister told the House of Commons yesterday:
“I think what we need to do, if I may say so, is build up an instant, automatic package of western sanctions that will come in automatically in the event of a single toecap of a Russian incursion into more of Ukraine.”—[Official Report, Commons, 25/1/22; col. 872.]
Is there agreement among all the western powers and our allies about what qualifies as incursion? We may well be asked to legislate in haste. Therefore, it is vital to know what an incursion is.
My Lords, on sanctions, let me assure the noble Lord—I know this is of interest to all noble Lords—that we are working very closely with all our allies and partners, particularly those who have such regimes. This is not an empty threat; this is a clear sanction against Russia for any incursion it makes in terms of territorial sovereignty. On noble Lord’s first question: that is not a group the UK directly participates in. We are aware of the meeting today; it is being held at political advisers’ level, and Russia is participating. I have seen some of the detail emerging, and I would not hold out too much hope as yet.
My Lords, as a young NATO soldier, I was occasionally in charge of the nightly train from Hanover to Berlin, to establish our rights of passage, despite Russian intransigence. Will the Government, while continuing to affirm our rights, use every diplomatic means to reduce fears of any expansion of NATO that may not have much practical importance?
My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord will know from his own experience, insight and expertise, it is for a country to make an application to NATO. NATO is a defensive alliance, and when an application is made, a procedure is followed for allowing entry to new members. On the wider point about engaging with Russia and ensuring that every diplomatic channel is open, we are doing exactly that: there is extensive diplomatic engagement at every level, including from my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, my right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary, and other Ministers.
My Lords, if you follow on a daily basis the press reporting in both France and Germany, there is a narrative developing, that if only the United Kingdom and the US were less alarmist, the tensions could be reduced. That shows that reliable information is becoming increasingly important. I urge the Minister to look at two things: whether the BBC World Service is sufficiently covering the area; and whether those within the FCDO have the required language skills to ensure they are on top of any information that is coming out?
My Lords, on the noble Baroness’s second point, the FCDO has established language skills training for diplomats, and we engage directly, through those language skills, with countries around the world. Of course, there is always room to do more. I will follow up the matter that she raises about the BBC and see whether more can be done, but, of course, that is directly a decision for the BBC.
My Lords, does the Minister not accept that the Minsk II agreement has not been implemented on either side, and that what we need is to get negotiations going on an open basis between Russia and Ukraine, with the help of the French and the Germans, so that we can dial down the tensions and not keep on inching towards conflict, which is going to do no good to anyone and end up with body bags being sent back to Britain?
My Lords, no one wants to see body bags. But it is for Russia—Russia is the aggressor here. A key point is Crimea: Russia is occupying, under international law, sovereign territory of another country. We should not lose sight of that. We are seeking to work with our alliances, including NATO. We are working with key partners, and I have assured noble Lords that we continue to engage directly with the Russians as well.
My Lords, the Minister refers to action required to stop Russia taking this aggressive act. On Tuesday, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that the Government were bringing forward a register of beneficial ownership as part of their efforts to track down Russian money in this country. However, the noble Lord, Lord Agnew, who had oversight of counterfraud, revealed in his resignation letter to Boris Johnson on Monday that, in a decision apparently taken last week, the economic crime Bill has been rejected for consideration during the next parliamentary year. Who is correct? I know who I believe.
My Lords, first, I acknowledge from our side, and indeed from across the House, the valuable services of my noble friend Lord Agnew, who served this House well. I recognise the important role he has played. As someone who has great respect for my noble friend, I listened carefully to the statement he made. The issue of illicit finance is important and it is a key priority for this Government. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has committed once again to ensuring that we weed out the fact that London is still used—I fully accept this—as a base for money laundering and illicit finance by some. We need to take further action. On the specific point about the Bill, I will refer to my colleagues at the Treasury and write to the noble Lord.
My Lords, it is right that we attend to the situation in Russia, but Ukraine is a deeply divided country. The situation is not helped by, for example, Ukraine’s decision three years ago to make Ukrainian the national language, precluding the involvement of some 50% of Russians in the south and east of the country, who speak only Russian. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to bring economic development and social cohesion to try to strengthen and bolster the life of Ukraine, as it faces this threat?
The right reverend Prelate is of course correct that it is important to recognise the diversity of different communities, and indeed different people, within Ukraine. Ukraine is a partner and we are working in a very constructive way. While the focus right now is rightly on the security of Ukraine, I assure the right reverend Prelate that we have a full range of programmes, relating to both the economic empowerment of countries and communities and working with civil society. I visited Ukraine just before Christmas and saw directly, for example, how faith communities are working together. There is a lot of work still to be done, but we are working directly and constructively with Ukraine in various areas.
Arrangement of Business
My Lords, for the benefit of noble Lords who were not in the Chamber at 11 am this morning, it may be helpful if I outline the arrangements for the remainder of today. We will shortly continue proceedings on the Health and Care Bill. The House will break again at 6.45 pm for questions on a Statement on Ukraine. After the Statement, we will continue proceedings on the Bill.
We have now spent over 33 hours in Committee on this important Bill. This morning, I urged—indeed, begged—all noble Lords with an interest in the Bill to be as concise as they felt able to be in their contributions, to speak to amendments that were before the Committee and not to rehearse arguments that would be more suited to Second Reading. I noted that the Front Benches would also seek to ensure that their contributions were brief and focused, and I am grateful for their co-operation this morning.
I am pleased that the House listened—a somewhat novel experience for this Government Chief Whip—and we made excellent progress this morning. However, we still have eight groups of amendments to get through today, and I once again implore Members to ensure that the debates remain as focused and succinct as they were before the break. In this way, we can ensure that all the amendments to this important Bill receive the attention they deserve. As I said this morning, I am sure I speak for the whole House when I say that none of us wishes to debate important issues in the early hours of the morning, so it is important that we continue in the way we started this morning.
Health and Care Bill
Committee (6th Day) (Continued)
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, will be speaking remotely in this debate. I should also alert the Committee that, should this amendment be agreed to, I will not be able to call Amendment 163 by reason of pre-emption.
162A: Clause 26, page 37, leave out lines 23 to 30
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment, along with another to this Clause, would remove the power of the Secretary of State to set, and from time to time revise, objectives and priorities for the CQC, but would require the CQC to consult the Secretary of State when it revises indicators of quality for the purposes of assessments under subsection (4).
My Lords, the purpose of Clause 26 is to introduce a process by which the Care Quality Commission inspects integrated care systems. The structure of this is the subject of my Amendments 162A and 164A. Those two amendments go together—they are not separate, but entirely linked. The purpose of Amendment 162A is to remove the process by which the Secretary of State sets objectives and priorities for the Care Quality Commission in undertaking such inspections of integrated care systems; Amendment 164A then seeks to insert a process by which the Secretary of State, and indeed others, are consulted by the Care Quality Commission over the quality indicators that it would use to assess the quality and performance of integrated care systems.
A bit of background would be helpful for noble Lords in this respect. Think back to what the Care Quality Commission’s existing statutory arrangements are in relation to reviews and performance assessments of existing bodies in the National Health Service. The structure is very straightforward. The commission is asked to set quality indicators, to consult on those and then to review against them and produce reports. I know from personal experience that the Secretary of State cannot direct the Care Quality Commission to undertake a particular review, but they can certainly make a request, and their role as steward of the whole healthcare system has certainly led Secretaries of State to do that from time to time. But the legislation does not permit the Secretary of State to direct the Care Quality Commission in how it does its job; it is an independent body corporate. There is intrinsic merit in the Care Quality Commission, as an inspectorate, operating independently. The structure of this clause in this Bill is at odds with the way in which the existing legislation is structured in the 2008 NHS Act as amended. The effect of these two amendments would be to restore the independence of the Care Quality Commission in undertaking its activities and in the way in which it goes about its job.
The Government’s drafting of the legislation is wrong anyway. There are references to objectives and priorities. The priorities are referred to in new subsection (3), inserted by Clause 26(2), which says that they
“must include priorities relating to leadership, the integration of services and the quality and safety of services.”
I have to say that this is teaching grandmothers to suck eggs. There is no way in which the Care Quality Commission is not going to incorporate such indicators of quality. We know that from the generic nature of the quality indicators that it uses generally for existing NHS bodies. The reference to setting objectives is not only novel but completely undefined. The Secretary of State can set whatever objectives they wish to; we do not know what they are and there is no indication of what they might be. Taking out references to objectives and priorities seems to me to be a very good thing.
As it happens—I declare my own role in this—in the 2012 legislation there was previously a process by which the Secretary of State set standards for the Care Quality Commission in determining what the quality indicators should look like. We actually took that out of the 2012 legislation, precisely on these grounds: that the Care Quality Commission is, and should be, as independent as possible.
I think this clause proceeds from the mistaken apprehension that the Care Quality Commission is a part of the management process of the NHS. It is not. If the Secretary of State wishes integrated care systems to proceed in any particular way, the Secretary of State has the means to do so available via the mandate; the Government plan to add specific powers of direction; and NHS England has duties that go in exactly the same direction. The Care Quality Commission is not part of the management process for integrated care systems; it is an inspectorate. If—and this is a risk we must avoid—the Secretary of State were directly intervening to set objectives for integrated care systems to be inspected subsequently by the Care Quality Commission, whereas NHS England is itself setting objectives for integrated care systems through its responsibilities and duties, those two may come into conflict.
For all those reasons, the Government would be well advised to accept these two amendments and put the Care Quality Commission into the independent role in relation to ICSs that it, and people working in the National Health Service, would recognise as being its role. I beg to move.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, has set out the tensions underlying the Bill about returning to the Secretary of State powers over independent, arms-length bodies; specifically, in this amendment, the inspections carried out by the Care Quality Commission in its role as a regulatory body. He rightly reminded us of the current arrangements, which give the CQC the ability to set its indicators and which, frankly, work well. I will not repeat his arguments, except to say in a slightly wider context that almost every piece of legislation brought to Parliament by this Government has given Ministers more powers—including, as in Clause 26, the power to intervene and to change remits.
The noble Lord’s amendments maintain the independence that the CQC—and other regulatory bodies—need to be able to inspect and make rulings without fear of favour or influence from politicians, while ensuring that the CQC must consult the Secretary of State when it revises indicators of quality for the purposes of assessment. That seems to me to provide the requirement for the CQC and the Secretary of State to engage in dialogue, but without the political intervention outlined in Clause 26(2) and (5).
Can the Minister explain why the Government feel the need to remove the independence of the CQC—whether this is an issue of management, as the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, said—and how giving the Secretary of State these powers can maintain the independence of a regulatory body?
My Lords, it is essential that we get the arrangements for the Care Quality Commission right throughout the Bill, and I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, for trying to do that through these amendments. If the health and social care provided is to be of the highest standards, we must ensure, through the powers of scrutiny and review in your Lordships’ House, that we enable the watchdog to have the proper tools and framework to achieve that, so I support the amendments.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, emphasised, this is about putting the responsibility in the right place to ensure that a key inspectorate can do an independent job and support proper integration and delivery. I hope the Minister will accept the good sense in these amendments.
Can I briefly ask my noble friend whether part of the thinking behind the current wording might be that the remit of the CQC may need extending? For example, when it comes to private operators of social care, the CQC currently does not have the power to look at the financial stability of those operators. Is this provision perhaps based on the thought that the Secretary of State may need to widen the remit and powers of the CQC? If not, we will be returning to this at some point.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Lansley for bringing this debate before the Committee. He has made some worthwhile points but I hope to be able to explain why I think his amendments should not be pressed.
My noble friend Lady Altmann is not quite right in what she suggested was the intention of Clause 26. Clause 26 will allow the CQC to look across the integrated care system to review how integrated care boards, local authorities and CQC-registered providers of health, public health and adult social care services are working together to deliver safe, high-quality and integrated care to the public. That will include the role of the integrated care partnership. These reviews serve several functions. They will provide valuable information to the public, help drive improvement, and review progress against our aspirations for delivering better, more joined-up care across the system.
These amendments would remove the requirements on the Secretary of State to set and approve the priorities for these reviews. They would also remove the Secretary of State’s ability to direct the CQC to revise the indicators of quality that it will determine for these reviews. Instead, the amendments would add a requirement on the CQC to consult on those indicators with the Secretary of State, prescribed persons and other persons considered appropriate.
I entirely see where my noble friend is coming from as regards the CQC’s independence, but I must tell him that we have thought about this issue very carefully and we think it is right that the Secretary of State, who is accountable to Parliament, should have the flexibility to set the overall strategic direction of these reviews, with priorities and objectives. That is not an open-ended facility. In the other place, we accepted an amendment to develop this further by making it clear that the priorities set by the Secretary of State must relate to leadership, integration, and quality and safety. The amendment would remove that certainty.
As I have already mentioned in previous debates, there will be quite a range of different forms of accountability and oversight within the system, including NHS England’s role in overseeing ICBs. As a result, we think that the Secretary of State should play a strategic role to ensure that the CQC reviews complement the other oversight and accountability mechanisms. This will be achieved, in part, through the Secretary of State’s approval of the quality indicators. To provide my noble friend with an analogy, we believe, as I am sure he does, that there is a proper role for the Secretary of State in setting the strategic direction of NHS England. He does this, of course, through the mandate.
Finally, the drafting of this clause is not an accident. It is drafted deliberately to protect the independence of the CQC in how it operates, while also encouraging consultation and collaboration. It will allow the CQC to develop its approach in collaboration with NHS England and other partners in the system. The CQC is already intending to develop its approach to these reviews co-operatively and is able to consider a wide range of views in doing so. We do not think it is necessary to require it to consult.
I hope this has given my noble friend some reassurance as to why we have taken the approach we have and, for these reasons, I ask him to withdraw his amendment.
I am grateful to my noble friend for that explanation, which, I am sorry to tell him, wholly fails to provide reassurance. First, he was wrong, in the sense that he maybe implied that my amendments would have removed the Secretary of State’s requirement to approve the indicators on which the commission chooses to base its reviews. That is left in at new Clause 46B(4)(b), so the approval of the Secretary of State for the indicators would remain. What is being taken out by my amendments is the requirement for the Secretary of State to set objectives and priorities. I am afraid that everything that my noble friend said went to support my view that there is an erroneous perception on the part of the Government that the CQC must be turned into an integral part of the management of the NHS and the integrated care system. That is simply not the case.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for her support. I quibble with her slightly in a pedantic way. We should not talk about the CQC as just another regulator; it is the inspectorate. In my experience, inspection should never be regarded as a substitute for management. Quality is integral to the management of the service. The CQC is there to determine and review whether that quality is being achieved, which is why I am perfectly happy for the Secretary of State, and indeed others, to be consulted and for the Secretary of State to approve the indicators of quality that the CQC arrives at. Frankly, however, for the Secretary of State to go further and start to prescribe the way the objectives of the CQC are set in this way is directly at odds with how the CQC reviews and reports on other NHS bodies. I can see the drift of this. If we accept it, we will end up with the CQC being told by the Secretary of State what its indicators of quality are for every NHS body and setting objectives and priorities for the CQC right across the board, which is completely at odds with the independence of the CQC.
I shall make one final point. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Altmann. Exactly the same argument applies to Clause 137, although I have not tabled amendments to it. It creates the CQC’s additional scrutiny and performance assessment of social care functions. We should therefore come back to precisely the point that she is talking about, as she suggests.
I hope my noble friend the Minister will take my point and that we might have further conversations between now and Report. However, I have to tell him that it is not just me who raises these points; I have been asked by representative bodies within the NHS to do so. We should take them seriously and hope that between now and Report we might see whether there are better ways to structure Clause 26 to secure both the Government’s objectives and what the NHS would expect to happen. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 162A withdrawn.
Amendment 163 not moved.
We come to the group beginning Amendment 164. The noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Masham, will be contributing remotely to this debate.
164: Clause 26, page 37, line 35, at end insert—
“(4A) The indicators of quality set by the Commission under subsection (4) must include—(a) whether national standards in the care of people with rare and less common conditions are being met;(b) whether the views of patients with rare and less common conditions are being represented;(c) whether people with rare and less common conditions have access to a named clinical nurse specialist.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require integrated care boards to be assessed by the Care Quality Commission on the provision of care for people with rare and less common conditions, in particular.
My Lords, Amendment 164 heads this wide-ranging group and probes how the proposed Care Quality Commission rating system for ICBs’ work in practice, with a particular focus on rare and less common conditions, although this debate is more broadly relevant to all aspects of the CQC’s role.
Amendments 178 and 240 from the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, to which I have added my name, also relate to people with rare diseases and their access to innovative medicines and medicinal products, and the general need for awareness-raising about those conditions among health and social care staff. I remind the Committee of my role as vice-chair of the Specialised Healthcare Alliance. The noble Lord will speak to those amendments later.
The group also covers amendments on wider care and safety issues that impact on patients, including ensuring that liothyronine T3 is available to patients when it is prescribed by a doctor and the regulation of healthcare and associated professions. This includes safeguards to apply under the Secretary of State’s power to alter the professional regulatory framework; protecting the use of the title “nurse”; hospital food standards for patients and training for staff; reviewing the surgical consultants’ appointment process; and licensing aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic procedures in registering cosmetic surgery practitioners.
The noble Lords who have their names to these amendments will speak to them, so I will leave them to it and concentrate on my rare disease issues and the matters that our Front Bench team have added their names to. Returning to the CQC, and following on from the previous debate on Clause 26, on the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, regarding the role of the Secretary of State in setting objectives and priorities, overall, we welcome the extension of the CQC’s remit to ICBs but now need to understand how it will work in practice.
As it stands, the Bill establishes an overarching framework under which the CQC will need to determine for itself the quality indicators against which it will assess ICBs. My amendment raises the issues about the quality indicators relevant to those with rare and less common conditions. If the purpose of the rating system is to protect patients, it must help to ensure that national standards of patient care, where they exist, are being met. Under the NHS’s plans to jointly commission or delegate commissioning responsibility for specialised services to ICBs, set out in NHS England’s Integrating Care paper, an important assurance given is that specialised services will
“continue to be subject to consistent national service specifications and evidence-based policies determining treatment eligibility.”
Will the CQC ensure that services organised by ICBs are organised in line with these national specifications?
Moreover, people with rare diseases are concerned that if services are to be commissioned in some way by ICBs in future, rather than just NHS England, their voices may be lost. NHS England’s specialised commissioning team meets regularly with representatives of the rare disease community, including the SHCA, and it is important that ICBs can hear their views too. How will this happen and how will the CQC rating system act to ensure that this happens?
Finally, one of the key asks of patients with rare diseases to help deliver continuity in their care is that they have access to a named clinical nurse specialist, which is commonplace for patients with more common conditions. That continuity of care is an important marker of quality. Will the CQC rating system help to deliver it?
Beyond these questions are broader ones. If the bulk of the CQCs work will continue to focus on inspecting providers, can the Minister explain how it will ensure that its ICB ratings are not unnecessarily duplicative, given that providers will form part of ICBs? Also, the CQC looks at whether services are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led. Given that the first three of these should continue to be the primary concern of those providing care, rather than of the ICBs organising it, how will the CQC ensure that the new rating system clarifies rather than dilutes this accountability? How will the CQC’s work align with the wider performance management of ICBs undertaken by NHS England? How specialised services will operate is a complex area and I am happy for the Minister to write to me on some of the specifics of my questions.
As I said, I will speak briefly to other amendments in this group, to which Labour Front-Benchers have added their names. Amendment 243, tabled by my noble friend Lady Merron, covers the important issue of the protection of the title “nurse”, and is supported by three respected medical and healthcare professionals whose contributions I look forward to. The recent Health Service Journal survey found hundreds of roles that do not require Nursing and Midwifery Council registration but use “nurse” in the job title. While “registered nurse” is a title protected by the NMC, “nurse” is not. The term may be used by anyone in the UK to offer professional advice and services, and people with no nursing qualifications or experience, or who have been struck off the professional register, may use it.
Obviously, this is worrying and even dangerous—a dangerous trend which potentially compromises patients’ health. What progress is being made on the Government’s review of healthcare professional regulation following their consultation last year? Surely we must follow the example of other countries, such as France and Australia, in giving the consistently most trusted profession in the UK the recognition and protection that it deserves.
My noble friend Lady Thornton has added her name to Amendment 258, from my noble friend Lord Hunt, to the welcome new Clause 145, on hospital food standards. It underlines the importance of investment in the food served to patients in hospital and other care and treatment settings. It is welcome because it specifies food quality and standards and stresses the importance of recognising staff skills, experience and training, as well as ensuring investment in NHS kitchens and catering equipment to ensure that the highest standards can be maintained.
On Amendment 266 from my noble friend Lady Merron, we seek to give the Secretary of State power to introduce a licensing regime for aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic procedures and to introduce an offence of practising without a licence. This area is crying out for regulation. The Department of Health’s own report has said that non-surgical interventions which can have major and irreversible adverse impacts on health and well-being are almost entirely unregulated. We fully recognise that this is also a highly complex policy area. However, I understand that noble Lords concerned about this issue had constructive and positive discussions yesterday with the Minister, and I look forward to the Minister updating the House on the scope and discussions of the Government’s ambition in this important area.
Finally, I offer my strong support for my noble friend Lord Hunt’s Amendment 176, which seeks to ensure that the general powers of the Secretary of State to direct the functions of NHS England include ensuring that when T3 is prescribed to patients with hyperthyroidism, the drug is made available to them. My noble friend rightly raises this issue at every opportunity, and I hope the Minister will have a bit of good news for him today and tell us that some real progress has been made. It is clear that many thyroid patients would benefit hugely from the declassification of T3 as a high-cost drug, back to a drug that is routinely prescribed in primary care. It is much cheaper now, and the many patients who were taken off the drug and continue to be denied it need to have it restored. The Government must ensure that the now updated NICE guidelines which reflect this new position are implemented consistently across the new NHS structures, rather than repeat the record of the nearly 50% of CCGs which failed to ensure that the drug is properly prescribed.
I will leave it at that, and I look forward to the debate.
I remind the Committee that both the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Masham, will be contributing remotely. I call the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton.
My Lords, I have signed two amendments in this very wide-ranging group. The first, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is Amendment 264 on the appointment of surgical consultants. As the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, said in your Lordships’ House recently, 48% of advertised consultant posts last year went unfilled. Given our discussions about the workforce earlier this week, we need as many posts filled as possible and to remove any bureaucratic barriers to so doing.
Part of the problem at the moment is that trusts are having difficulties establishing appointment panels which can make these consultant appointments. Currently, the rules are too tightly drawn in the National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996 and the subsequent 2005 guidance. The members of all the royal colleges across the UK have a wealth of expertise, but the current legislation says that only members of English royal colleges can help trusts fill their appointment duties. In its helpful briefing, the Royal College of Surgeons says that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh are excluded from being eligible to join these panels. This amendment would be a simple remedy and speed up the appointment of much-needed consultants, and I do hope that the Minister can agree to it.
I have also signed Amendment 266 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, on the urgent need to ensure that practitioners undertaking non-surgical aesthetic procedures such as lip fillers, injectables, thread lifts, semi-permanent make-up, laser treatments, piercings and tattoos are properly trained and licensed. These treatments are easily available to members of the public, but without the safeguards required when being carried out in the health sector. I am afraid that we see daily in the press and media reports on the many problems when treatments go wrong, which can include infection, disfiguration and burns, among other serious issues. When treatments do go wrong, it is usually the NHS that has to pick up the pieces, so I believe it is very much in the interests of the Department of Health and Social Care to accept this amendment.
The signatories to this amendment have been working with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, alongside a coalition of public health organisations and industry representatives, so that we can make sure that a licensing scheme can be introduced for all non-surgical aesthetic procedures. This will enable the setting of appropriate standards, a level playing field for practitioners and, importantly, protect consumers in this sector.
I call the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton.
My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 178, 266 and 293. Amendment 178, which was tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, is important for people with rare and less common diseases. The amendments could be a lifeline for people who have rare conditions who use products that may be the only substances that work. There is an enormous selection of rare conditions. It can be a desperate situation when some medicines are developed but take a long time to be given the all-clear by NICE. Some medicines are not available in England on the National Health Service but are available in other countries, sometimes even in Scotland. That is devastating and frustrating.
I support Amendments 266 and 293, on the cosmetic surgery industry, which must be made safer. It is extraordinary that this business is only partially registered. Many people who have such a procedure take for granted that the practitioner will be registered and fully insured. There have been some disastrous results when things go wrong with a beauty procedure. I know of some plastic surgeons who work only in the National Health Service, as they do not want to be tarred with the same brush as uninsured cowboys. Amendments 266 and 293 deal with a wide selection of cosmetic procedures, some of which are psychologically important to many people. There is wide interest in making this trade safe and getting it registered. I hope the Minister realises that this is an important matter that needs putting right.
My Lords, I have Amendment 176, the second amendment in this group, and two other amendments. I shall start with Amendment 176 which is concerned with the treatment of thyroid patients who continue to be denied liothyronine, otherwise known as T3, as the most appropriate treatment for them. For some patients, the standard treatment is not effective. T3 has proven to be a much better treatment, but tragically, a few years ago the manufacturers grossly inflated the cost of T3 by a massive 6,000%. Understandably, NHS England and its associated prescribing advising machinery strongly discouraged the use of the drug and, as a result, many patients had T3 withdrawn and suffered quite considerably or had to fund it privately or source it from abroad. Happily, the price of T3 has come down by 75%, although it could go down further, but I believe it is no longer categorised as a high-cost drug.
The problem is that clinical commissioning groups still treat it as a high-cost drug, so the situation is still very difficult for patients who need it—those for whom the standard treatment is not appropriate. The current guidance states that T3 can be prescribed to patients who have unresolved symptoms on the standard treatment if it is initiated or confirmed following a review by an NHS consultant endocrinologist. A statement in July 2021 restated NHSE guidance, but it has not been followed by clinical commissioning groups. A survey done recently by UK thyroid charities, to which I pay huge tribute, says that 44% of CCGs have not fully adopted the national guidelines or are wrongly interpreting them.
What are we to do? What is the situation here, where we have clear guidance that is not being followed? This goes back to our previous debates about the various mechanisms being brought in to ration treatments, against national guidance or technology appraisal advice from NICE. It is the same issue. I am not expecting the Minister to issue a direction but I am expecting him to tell CCGs and, in future, integrated care boards to get off their backsides, start implementing the guidance properly and realise that this is no longer such a high-cost drug. I appeal to him to do something about that.
I also hope that the Minister will do something about hospital catering. I confess to your Lordships that I am president of the Hospital Caterers Association, where I work very closely with some great professional staff who have to work with their hands tied behind their back. Often they do not have the resources to provide the high-quality food that everyone wants and expects.
During Covid we saw in many local NHS facilities a determination to do everything possible to improve nutrition for both patients and staff. Miraculously, hot food was made available to staff overnight, which, as noble Lords know, seems to have been beyond the capacity of the NHS for many years. I do not know why I am looking at the former Chief Nursing Officer as I say this; I think it is an appeal for support.
This clause is highly welcome as I believe it will lead to higher standards, but my amendments would enable the caterers to deliver on them. The first key point is this: they need the resources to be able to do it. The amount of money spent on hospital food per day at the moment is simply not sufficient. Secondly, we need more training for staff. The training programmes have disappeared, and we need to get them back in to give staff the opportunity to show what they can do. Thirdly, we need to make sure that NHS trusts and foundation trusts are fully on board with bringing forward these regulations. There is no doubt that the efficiency programmes have taken their toll on the budgets for hospital catering and that, equally, the old-style national training schemes fell away and have not been replaced. The pay grade of qualified chefs and cooks needs to be reviewed to reflect the importance of their role. This issue is important in terms of the standards of food and nutrition for our patients and for the well-being of our staff.
My final amendment in this group is Amendment 264. What links all these amendments is that we need more consultants appointed—a small effort to enable us to improve the efficiency of the system. I remind the Committee of my GMC connections in relation to this. The amendment would add the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and their associated dental faculties, to the colleges that may be involved in the appointment of NHS consultants. My amendment was inspired by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, which noble Lords might be surprised to learn has an office in Birmingham because many consultants who work in the English NHS are members of the Scottish colleges.
There seems to be a lacuna in the current regulations. According to the National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996 and subsequent guidance issued by the department in 2005, only the Royal College of Surgeons in England is permitted to review surgical consultant job descriptions and send a royal college representative to the advisory appointment committees when it comes to the appointment of consultant surgeons. Other elements of my amendment apply to the appointment of physician clinicians, and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine are also supportive. Although the process and guidance apply only to NHS trusts, foundation trusts are encouraged to follow it.
The Minister has yet to accept any amendment to the Bill. The usual line from the Government is, “We will do this when legislation is available to do so.” Here is a great opportunity for the Minister, as we are here on day 6 of Committee, to get up and say that he is going to accept my amendment.
My Lords, in following the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, I declare an interest as the patron of the National Association of Care Catering, a position that I took over from the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. I admit that, when I had this great honour thrust upon me, I had little idea what I was getting into—and I have discovered a world of highly dedicated, professional people whose contribution to the health of the nation is very much overlooked. I managed to attend their national conference in Nottingham last October, and I have to say that it was one of the most harrowing afternoons I have spent, as they talked about what they had gone through as the people who supply catering not only in hospitals and acute hospitals but in care homes, as well as doing meals on wheels.
I will pick up one point that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, made, on training. He is absolutely right that this area has suffered a great deal because of various changes not just to training in the NHS but to the training in higher education. We do not have a recognised qualification in care catering in this country, yet these are people who have to produce food for people who have dysphagia, multiple food intolerances and dementia, people who quite often are suffering from malnutrition when they come into hospital, and people who have allergies and often suffer from dehydration. The people who have worked in this field, and some of them have worked in it for many years, suffer a deep sense of frustration, which is that when young people in school or college show an aptitude for or a willingness to go into the world of catering, they are directed towards restaurant catering, because that is where the teachers and lecturers think the money is to be made. Actually, catering for people with difficult medical conditions is a lot more complicated.
I say to the Minister that I am also really impressed by the specialist companies that work in this field—those that produce specialist menus and enable people to order ingredients for complicated menus in complicated settings, as well as those that manufacture cutlery and crockery and vessels that can be used by people whose interaction with that sort of thing is hampered. These can bring a dignity and focus to something that is much overlooked—but talk to dieticians and you will increasingly understand the importance that food plays in maintenance of health and recovery.
I do not know whether or not this will make it into the Bill, but will the Minister go back to the department and ask whether his officials might meet some of the people who do a remarkable and much overlooked job, day in, day out, and who these last two years, perhaps more than anybody else in the NHS, deserved the clap, if only people knew what they had done?
My Lords, in this rather large group of amendments, I shall take us from catering to my Amendment 242 on professional regulation. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for adding her name. I draw your Lordships’ attention to my registered interests, in particular as chief executive of Cerebral Palsy Scotland. I am involved with the employment of regulated allied health professionals.
Clause 142 gives the Secretary of State far-ranging powers to alter the professional regulatory landscape, with the potential to make significant changes to how certain health and care professions may be regulated, including the power to remove professions from, or bring professions into, statutory regulation.
The UK model of regulation for healthcare is rigid, complex and needs to change to better protect patients, to support our health services and to help the future workforce meet future challenges. The case for reform has been acknowledged.
Whether a health and care profession falls under regulation is a major decision affecting not only the professions themselves but employers, patients and service users who place their trust in those professionals. My Amendment 242 is a probing one. I want to explore some of the issues that will be particularly important for the Government to consider as and when they might seek to use these extended powers.
I want first to thank my noble friend the Minister and the Bill team for the time they have taken so far to discuss the issues around my amendment. We are all agreed on the importance of encouraging greater collaboration between regulators, with the ability to share data and intelligence, but I remain to be convinced that the legislation is being used to reduce regulatory silos, which is crucial to reducing regulatory failures in the future.
I want to be clear that I am not advocating for a single super regulator, which would be a step in the wrong direction, not to mention complicated, disruptive and expensive. I would rather harness the best elements of professional regulation and give the regulators the tools to work more closely together and share best practice more consistently.
I accept that work is being done in the department on various regulatory reform initiatives. These are all important, but it strikes me that they are all focused on individual regulators and amend specific operational issues, rather than looking at the landscape as a whole and what could be achieved.
We have sadly seen all too many reviews and inquiries which have identified regulatory silos as a key factor in why something went terribly wrong. My noble friend Lady Cumberlege’s First Do No Harm report highlights the issue starkly, but the Paterson inquiry, the Sir Robert Francis report on Mid Staffs, the Shipman inquiry and others have all underscored the value of greater collaboration between regulatory bodies, sharing data and intelligence as well as adopting shared professional standards. Reducing and removing silos is also good for professionals and employers, with benefits in terms of intra-professional learning and for professional and patient safety.
I am grateful to the Health and Care Professions Council for its briefing, but I was concerned to note something which regulators have stressed to me: that due to their tightly defined duties, they have often been forced to resort to informal memorandums of understanding to try to make the system work better. That is piecemeal and inefficient— frankly, I would be extremely disappointed if the Minister in his response was to rely on such MoUs to fix the issue.
Do not the powers in this Bill offer a chance to look at things differently: a whole system regulatory approach rather than a set of silos? Amendment 242 identifies some principles and considerations that I believe the Government would find beneficial in developing this more collaborative landscape.
Maintaining regulatory independence is crucial. The Government have rightly recognised this in other legislation recently, but I would welcome confirmation from the Minister that this remains a cornerstone of any future regulatory reform proposals. I would be grateful for reassurance that no regulatory reform would be undertaken by the UK Government without working with the devolved Administrations to ensure that it worked for all parts of the UK.
I particularly want to highlight the benefits of multi-profession regulation, which, as the CEO of an organisation that relies on a range of expert allied health and care professionals registered with the HCPC, I see at first hand, supporting improvements across professions that are increasingly interconnected. As the Minister is aware, the HCPC regulates 15 professions, so is able to utilise common frameworks and outcome-based standards. This approach could, and should, be spread among all the professional regulators.
This is particularly important as the Government, NHS England and NHS Improvement seek to create a more flexible workforce with an ability to move between professions, work as multidisciplinary teams and support career progression. From my own experience, I know that this is positive, but we need our regulatory system to keep up with innovations in delivery. Can my noble friend the Minister therefore tell us about how we can harness the benefits of multi-profession regulation and how he anticipates this will influence the Government’s thinking in terms of reform? Collaboration and the development of a system-wide approach to overcome fragmentation and silos is critical to the future success of regulation. It is an enabler of better care, and a collaborative structure would generate considerably higher and richer levels of data.
Finally, this holistic approach would offer an opportunity to create consistent criteria for making decisions about which professions may be brought into or taken out of regulation. Could the Minister put it on record today that the issues in the amendment are principles that would govern the future use of the powers within Clause 142, that they are all principles that the Government are actively considering and that no decisions on regulatory change would be taken if the criteria set out in this amendment were not met? Once again, I thank him and his team for his engagement so far, and I look forward to his response today. I hope we can continue discussions between now and Report.
My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 243 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, and Amendment 264 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.
Yesterday I was chastised—wrongly, in my view—for speaking at length. Such boldness requires training in speaking up, confidence in being right and using authority. The comments came from a government Whip, who happens to be a registered nurse. As a doctor, I am used to that. When a nurse speaks up, patient safety improves, health equity improves, collegial relationships are stronger—again, as a doctor I can vouch for that—and healthcare systems improve. This is because of their training. Not recognising legally the status that the title of “nurse” brings to those that are highly trained and qualified and on a nursing council register is wrong.
We all know what a nurse is; a nurse is highly trained, highly competent, can do the job well and is on a nursing register. Anybody else is not a nurse. It is right, therefore, that we recognise this and give it a legal status. Furthermore, the NHS and health providers should not employ anyone as a nurse who does not meet the above criteria. I understand that last year there were 195 advertisements for nurses in the NHS which did not say that the qualification of being registered was necessary. In my view, that is wrong. I strongly back this amendment, and I look forward to the contribution of my noble friend Lady Watkins.
Turning to Amendment 264 on the appointment of consultants in surgery, I am a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, so I speak on behalf of all surgical colleges. Let me give your Lordships an example: there is a surgical post empty in Birmingham. A highly qualified person, who was well-trained in Scotland and holds a fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, is a key candidate for application but cannot be appointed because the Royal College of Surgeons of England cannot provide an assessor. On the other hand, there is a surgical vacancy in Glasgow, and the top candidate is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England but can be appointed without a Royal College of Surgeons of England assessor being there. That is a total anomaly.
A person can be appointed who is fully trained in Scotland, is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, works in Cambridge, applies in Cambridge, but you cannot have an assessor from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. In all other specialties—the Royal Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, of Ophthalmologists, of Radiologists, of Psychiatrists, of Anaesthetists, and in public health—the assessor can come from any part of the United Kingdom. This anomaly can be stopped very easily. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, that it is not a big deal; just change it in legislation. I do not know who opposes it.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Patel, on the term “nurse”, which is protected in law at the moment only for those who are a “registered nurse”. This means that anyone can describe themselves as a nurse, as the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, outlined. They can even describe themselves as a nurse if they have no qualifications or experience—or, perhaps more seriously, have just been struck off the register. As somebody who was a member of the forerunner to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, I can say that we do not strike people off the register lightly, so the risks of such people being at large and describing themselves as nurses are serious. For this reason, a petition was created calling for the title “nurse” to be protected further in UK law.
In the initial response by the Government to the petition, recognition was given that the protection of professional titles
“provides assurance to the public that someone using that title is competent and safe to practise.”
The response references a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care on professional regulation, Regulating Healthcare Professionals, Protecting the Public. In the Nursing and Midwifery Council response to this consultation, the nursing regulator recognised issues around the limitations of “nurse” not being a protected title and said it did not think that its current powers are sufficient,
“given that they are primarily based around titles that are not widely understood by the public or used by the professions.”
This amendment is designed to ensure that there are sufficient regulatory levers to be able to protect the public in the future.
Nurses on the NMC register find it difficult to understand why the Government are reluctant to protect the title. As part of the statutory regulations of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, it was mandated that registered nurses would be part of the clinical commissioning group governing body. In Regulation 11 of the National Health Service (Clinical Commissioning Groups) Regulations 2012, the CCG governing body is required to include at least one registered nurse within its membership. This created a statutory commissioning role for nursing leaders in England that will be lost should this not be required within integrated care boards’ executive membership. Please can the Minister explain whether guidance will include a recommendation that there should be a registered nurse as part of the executive team on integrated care boards?
My Lords, I support Amendment 264, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, to which I have added my name. In so doing, I remind noble Lords of my own interests, particularly as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
This is a critical amendment, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, indicated, strongly supported by my noble friend Lord Patel. Currently, the National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996, with additional guidance provided by the department in 2005, restricts membership of advisory appointments committees for consultants to certain royal colleges, as we have heard with the appointment of surgeons by the Royal College of Surgeons of England alone—and, indeed, for physicians by the Royal College of Physicians of London. This is an anomaly. The medical royal colleges across the United Kingdom are recognised in terms of the postgraduate training that they are able to supervise, the continuing professional development they are able to provide and, indeed, collaborate with regard to postgraduate examination which is required for provision of the certificate for the completion of specialist training. However, when it comes to the question of consultant appointment, there is this restriction.
Noble Lords might ask why it is important that this matter be dealt with. The provision by a medical royal college of a professional member to serve as part of the appointment process for a new consultant is critical. Those representatives provide expertise and insight with regard to the nature of the job description, the requirements for the individual post, and the assessment of individual candidates as part of the selection process on the day.
The regulations apply only to non-foundation trusts, but guidance provided in 2005 recommends that NHS foundation trusts follow exactly the same process and involve representatives on these advisory appointments committees. In addition, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has strongly encouraged that all consultant appointments follow these regulations and guidance. This means that, when it comes to the question of consultant appointment, only representatives nominated by the Royal College of Surgeons of England can serve.
This is creating a bottleneck in terms of appointment of consultants, and this is happening at a critical moment, when the NHS must look to make more and more consultant appointments to meet the increasing demands we are seeing—particularly with regard to long elective waiting lists—that attend surgical specialties and subspecialties in particular.
It is possible that NHS foundation trusts might take the view that this bureaucratic hurdle to finding members for advisory appointments committees from the royal colleges could easily be overcome by ignoring the guidance. Then, we would lose this critical element of expert professional input into the appointment of future consultants. That would really be a very unfortunate situation.
As we have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Lord Patel, this is a very easy issue to address. There is no objection, and it would send a very powerful signal, with regard not only to the importance of professional participation in the appointment of future consultants but to the recognition that, although health is a devolved matter, we recognise the United Kingdom as a single entity in so many questions for the provision of health and, in particular, the training and development of healthcare professionals and their ability to work across our entire country.
My Lords, can I just take us back to Amendment 266, to which I have added my name, before we lose sight of it? It was helpfully introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, and its purposes were explained very well by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton.
I just want to add a bit of context, which I hope will commend itself in particular to my noble friend Lord Howe on the Front Bench, in that he and I tackled together the PIP breast implant problems that emerged in December 2010 and which led directly, subsequently, to us asking the distinguished first medical director of NHS England, Bruce Keogh, to undertake an inquiry. Since the report of that inquiry, we have made considerable progress. Most recently, noble Lords will recall that the noble Baroness, Lady Wyld, took through the Private Member’s Bill from Laura Trott in the other place to assist in the regulation of Botox treatment for under-18s.
The point is that there is still unfinished business. Amendment 266 relates to giving the Secretary of State the power to set up a licensing process for non-surgical cosmetic procedures—not through the CQC in this case, because the CQC regulates healthcare professionals, but almost certainly through the mechanism of asking local authorities to undertake a licensing process. It gives the Secretary of State all the flexibility that we have grown accustomed to legislation having to give them, but it does so in a way that enables the regulation that would be brought in using this power to be proportionate, being very clear that it should apply only to those activities that present a significant risk. It makes sure that it takes advantage, for example, of the national standards that have been put in place by the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners. It would be very helpful in trying to mitigate the risks associated with non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
Amendment 293 in my name is a follow-up to a Private Member’s Bill that made no progress. It again follows Bruce Keogh’s report and looks to give the General Medical Council the legislative opportunity and requirement to bring forward a scheme to put surgeons who have a specialty relating to cosmetic surgery on to its specialist registers. With Amendment 293, we have the benefit of being able to do this by virtue of the recommendations in recent years from the Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee of the Royal College of Surgeons. It gives us an opportunity to give those who wish to undertake surgical treatments for cosmetic purposes the opportunity to see who is on the specialist register. All this relates to the safety of those undertaking cosmetic treatments, which is a large number of people; there is a large amount of activity and a significant need for the consumers of these services to have a degree of protection. I think we can make progress on that.
In the rest of this group, we have another opportunity to take action. My noble friend was right when she spoke about a more general approach. She will recall that, in April 2014, the Law Commission produced its recommendations on the regulation of healthcare professionals, so there is an opportunity to do something here. If we do not do it in this Bill, it would not hurt for the Government to tell us more about how they might make progress on the broader regulation, in addition to what is being proposed here.
I want to mention two other things. First, we had an earlier debate about access to innovative medicines. This is another opportunity for my noble friend to tell the Committee that NHS England is proceeding with its consultation on the implementation of the innovative medicines fund. Secondly, we do not need to repeat the short debate we had in Grand Committee not so very long ago under the auspices of my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who enabled us to present a lot of arguments about the future of NHS Resolution and clinical negligence within the NHS. We do not need to repeat that, but Amendments 178 and 297E would of course help us in that direction, not least by repealing the redundant NHS Redress Act 2006, which has never been implemented. With that thought, I pass the ball to the noble Lord, Lord Storey.
My Lords, I support Amendment 266 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, and Amendment 293 in the name of my noble friend Lord Lansley for all the reasons that my noble friend just articulated. I will not repeat them as he put them so very well. However, I would say to the Minister that, coming from the innovation space, I can see that the technologies for both cosmetic surgery and non-surgical cosmetic interventions are improving all the time. There is an incredibly rapid pace of change. They are set to continue to get better and better, so the marketplace is getting more sophisticated and their popularity is also exploding. We have been briefed on evidence about the role of social media in promoting non-surgical cosmetic interventions in particular. This is exciting, because it is great that people have access to these interesting products, but also extremely worrying, because not all the surgeries and non-surgical interventions are successful. It is the right time for the Government to intervene, so that we have a register of cosmetic surgical practitioners and a much clearer regulatory regime for non-surgical interventions.
I am pro cosmetic surgery. As a young boy, I had an inherited condition of having very big, sticking-out ears, which my father had and my cousins and aunts have, and it was miserable. I had them pinned back and I am very grateful that that happened. It meant that I could be a much more confident person as I grew up. I am pro cosmetic interventions; if people want to use the benefits of medicine to improve their confidence in the way they look, I applaud that. However, standing next to my noble friend Lady Cumberlege, I am also aware of Bruce Keogh’s extremely good report and the very large number of interventions that have not gone well. I know that the Minister’s instincts are not to intervene unless absolutely required and my suggestion to him is that we have hit that moment. The marketplace is exploding and now is the right time to intervene.
My Lords, as I address Amendment 266, I should declare that I am a vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. I stress that this amendment has been supported by the Beauty Industry Group, which represents 10 industry organisations—two voluntary registers for cosmetic practitioners, the Mental Health Foundation and others.
There are currently significant gaps in our regulatory system. Environmental health and licensing professionals work at a local authority level. They inspect, register and license premises for a very limited set of procedures, such as acupuncture, tattoos and piercing. Even for these procedures, however, there are no nationally set training programmes or qualification requirements for somebody to practise. For the riskier beauty procedures, such as the injectables, there are only voluntary registers of accredited practitioners. They have some approved education and training but that is not mandatory.
That means that there are many unaccredited practitioners on the high street providing services to people directly with no checks. A licensing scheme, as outlined in the amendment, would provide appropriate qualification and competency standards for practitioners wishing to practise, which is key to improving safety. The amendment as drafted is an open power for the Secretary of State, so it is easily amended as new procedures come online and on to the marketplace. The weakness of existing legislation in the area is that it fails to cover many of the newer treatments that are now popular.
When things go wrong, it is the NHS that has to pick up the pieces. Infections, injuries, scarring, burns and allergic reactions from a range of procedures often all end up in the NHS, sometimes with people being hospitalised and disfigured. Injection of fillers—or botulinum toxins—into blood vessels can cause dying back of tissues as well as blindness when administered by people who really are not adequately trained and certainly not registered. That means that there is no recompense for people damaged by these practitioners, who have no medical insurance or qualifications. In addition, there are unauthorised advertisements that breach advertising standards. There are strict laws around prescription-only medicines such as botulinum toxin, but these advertisements seem to bypass those.
Among members of the public who have had cosmetic procedures, alarmingly, three-quarters were given no information about the product, volume, brand or batch number of whatever was being used and just under three-quarters were not asked anything at all about their psychosocial or mental health or any body image issues. It is a vast and complex area and there are gaps in regulations. We need a national framework of standards with qualifications that can be recognised, so that there is a clear badge for members of the public.
To briefly address Amendment 297, I suggest that it is not needed because dermatological surgery and plastic surgery are subsections of medical practice and already registered with the General Medical Council. This gets nearer to credentialling than to requiring a separate qualification. These are doctors. They are highly trained, they have gone through a recognised training programme and they have been often examined as part of their exit from their training in whatever procedure they are undertaking.
I remind the Committee that, in a recent letter from the right honourable Michael Gove, he said that he is considering a licensing scheme. I hope the Government will see that this amendment would allow such a scheme without tying the Government down, and I hope that they will accept it, as well as Amendment 264 from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for which I should declare that I am an honorary fellow of the of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. I think the contents of the amendment would go wider than simply surgical procedures. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine was established as a separate medical college in 2008, but the guidance and regulations were written prior to that, so they are completely out of date for what is now emerging as a major specialty across medicine. That amendment would rectify a lacuna.
The last amendment I want to speak to is Amendment 242, so clearly introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Fraser. We need clear and transparent criteria for deciding which professions are regulated, and how the Government use their powers and the principles behind the criteria. Amendment 242 would provide such criteria. As we have discussed in the context of a previous Bill on domestic abuse, titles such as “therapist”, “psychotherapist” and “counsellor” are not protected. Courses in these subjects are unregulated, their quality varies widely and they are not registered anywhere. Charlatan practitioners can wreak havoc on people’s lives. The public have no idea that these people are not registered or regulated in any way. Even if serious concerns are expressed or complaints raised about them, they remain immune from investigation through the channels by which the health professions are regulated. I urge the Minister to look at that carefully.
Linked to this is the proposal that the title “nurse” should be protected, and I, for one, strongly support that. There is confusion in the mind of the public, and I recall one charitable sector provider that put all nurses and care assistants in the same uniform. That meant that patients and relatives were completely confused as to who was a trained nurse and who was a care assistant. They had no idea about what staff could and could not do and how much information they could give. Fortunately, the uniforms were changed fairly quickly. The public have a right to know that they are being looked after by a highly qualified, very skilled person—and that is a nurse.
Briefly, I support Amendment 176 from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. I first declare two interests as a patron of thyroid charities, particularly the Thyroid Trust, whose leader, Mrs Lorraine Williams, has done great work on behalf of patients. I should also declare that I once suffered from Graves’ disease, with an unpredictably hyperactive thyroid gland. This may have been one of the few parts of my body that was hyperactive, but it was surgically removed and, ever since, I have taken daily levothyroxine. However, some patients cannot take levothyroxine but need liothyronine instead. It is a shame that some patients have been unable to get that drug when they need it so badly. I know that the NHS must control total drug costs, but the history of its control of that particular drug has perhaps not been perfect. The fault is originally that of the manufacturer, not the NHS, but it is patients who have suffered. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, would solve this problem.
My Lord’s, I shall speak to Amendments 178 and 240, and I remind the Committee of my interest as chair of the Specialised Healthcare Alliance.
Amendment 178 deals with innovative medicines and medicinal products. The debate on this amendment is very timely, given the recent conclusion of NICE’s review of its methods and processes and the current consultation on the innovative medicines fund. Both the review and the IMF consultation are to be welcomed. It is clear that they will result in improvements in the system of assessing medicines and medicinal products, particularly in respect of analysing and addressing uncertainty and incorporating more real-world evidence into decision-making. However, it is also clear that both the IMF proposals and the outcome of NICE’s review are at risk of falling short of the hopes of many patients, clinicians and the life sciences sector more generally in a number of important ways.
First, there is still a lacuna in NICE’s approach to considering treatments for rare disease. For ultra-rare diseases—those affecting fewer than 1,000 people—NICE retains its highly specialised technologies process. For more common conditions—those affecting more than 25,000 people—NICE has its separate technology appraisal process. But for patients with rare diseases—those affecting between 1,000 and 25,000 people—there is no process, and so treatments for these patients have to be considered instead through the unsuitable technology appraisal process. This gap sets us apart from other countries, such as the more generous ASMR system in France and the AMNOG system in Germany for evaluating rare disease treatments.
It was therefore very disappointing to see that the case for the rare disease modifier was again rejected in NICE’s review. It was rejected on the grounds that society does not value treatments for rare disease more highly than those for more common diseases. Those representing rare-disease patients would contend that the fact is that these treatments are inherently costly. The Government accept this in relation to ultra-rare disease, so why do they not do so for rare disease treatments? I would be grateful if the Minister could address that specific question when he replies.
Secondly, NICE’s own consultation looked favourably on reducing the discount rate at which NICE assesses the future costs and benefits offered by a treatment, saying that such a change
“could make a particularly big difference to some treatments, like gene therapies.”
However, NICE has now said that this change would not be possible, due to the views of “system stakeholders”, and this has disappointed many people. When the Minister replies, I would be grateful if he could expand on what “system stakeholders” really means in this context. Who is NICE talking about and why did it assign conclusive weight to their views?
Thirdly, the system in England still fails to formalise the input of patients and clinical experts in the way that, for example, the SMC in Scotland does through its patient and clinical engagement process.
Finally, proposals for the innovative medicines fund now move far beyond the originally planned narrow focus on autoimmune and rare diseases. This causes some SHCA members to worry that rare diseases will get less attention than originally envisaged.
These proposals fall short of the hoped for bridge between the MHRA’s licensing process—which reforms are speeding up in some cases—and NICE’s reimbursement process. Without such a bridge, earlier licensing will not deliver benefits to NHS patients, and ultimately companies will lose interest in making bespoke licensing applications to the MHRA. The Government’s own figures—the life sciences competitiveness indicators, published by the Office for Life Sciences—demonstrate that it is already the case that the per capita uptake of new medicines remains lower and slower in this country than in comparable countries.
Our Amendment 178 suggests that the Government review the situation by the end of the year, when we will have a good half year of experience of the changes to NICE and the operation of the IMF, and when we will be able to see that the hoped for improvements have materialised. I hope that the Minister will consider this suggestion.
I now turn to Amendment 240, which seeks to probe the Government’s actions to improve awareness of rare diseases among healthcare professionals. There are more than 7,000 rare diseases, and it would clearly be impossible for every healthcare professional to receive training on every single one of them. However, as the Government’s rare disease framework notes, healthcare professionals can improve their awareness of rare diseases more generally, be more alert to considering them and be provided with the educational resources that help them recognise rare diseases in patients. Healthcare professionals can also be better supported to help signpost patients with rare disease to information about their condition and to help them understand it.
In a 2016 survey by Rare Disease UK, it was found that 70% of patients were not provided with sufficient information on their condition following diagnosis, and that 35% of patients given information did not understand the information that they were given.
More recent surveys demonstrated that these challenges continue. The Government’s national conversation on rare diseases in 2019 found that almost one in five people living with a rare condition reported that a lack of healthcare professional awareness of their disease was the number one challenge that they faced, and healthcare professionals themselves identified it as the second biggest challenge they faced behind only the well-known difficulties in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. I accept that healthcare professional regulators can do only so much to make improvements, but it would be helpful to understand from the Minister what steps they might be able to take to help better embed rare disease content in training frameworks.
Finally, there is a wider question of how the Government currently track progress in increasing awareness of rare diseases among healthcare professionals. How do the Government do that? I look forward to the Minister’s reply.