Moved by
Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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My Lords, over the pandemic the NHS has worked wonders. Throughout the greatest challenge that our health and care system has ever faced, the extraordinary dedication, care and skill of the people who work in our communities and hospitals have been unwavering, and I am sure that the whole House would want to put on record our thanks and admiration for staff across the health and care system.

The Government believe that part of that thanks must be in the form of giving the NHS the Bill that it wants, the Bill that it has asked for and the Bill that it needs to take better care of all of us. Some may say that this is the wrong time for this legislation. The Government and, more importantly, the NHS disagree. The Bill builds on the progress that the NHS made during the pandemic. Under crisis conditions, the NHS evolved, finding new reserves of incredible creativity, innovation and collaboration. It rolled out an extraordinarily successful vaccine programme, it drew on our collective strengths to deliver a programme reaching every corner of the United Kingdom and it has continued to deliver.

But the NHS has told us that the current legislation contains barriers to innovation that the Government feel duty-bound to remove. The NHS has asked for more flexibility to enable local leaders to try out new things—not as a free for all but in ways that best suit local needs and ensure that the system can evolve. The NHS has asked us to protect and nurture the innovation and hard-won lessons of the pandemic, as we begin to build back better.

Much of the Bill is not new: it builds on years of work on the ground to integrate care, on the work outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan and on years of experience, effort and learning, and of the system pushing the legislation to its limits to do what is best. It also builds on the Integration and Innovation White Paper that we published in February 2021, and on the many consultations that we have held on different aspects of the Bill. The NHS asked for legislation to make it fit for the future, and we are delivering. The Government believe that this is the right Bill at the right time, with wide support for the principles of embedding integration, cutting bureaucracy and boosting accountability.

I am sure that noble Lords will agree that one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS is the workforce. The Bill proposes a duty on the Secretary of State to report on the workforce “once every five years”. The Government are asking the NHS to develop a 15-year strategic framework for workforce planning, and we are looking to merge NHS England and Health Education England to deliver this. We are on track to deliver on our promise of 50,000 more nurses by March 2024.

The Government believe that this Bill will also help to deliver adult social care reform. In September, we announced plans to invest an additional £5.4 billion to begin a comprehensive programme of reform. Last week, we published our reform White Paper, People at the Heart of Care. This sets out our vision for adult social care and our priorities for investment, with measures including a new £300 million investment in housing and a £500 million investment in the workforce, to bring tangible benefits to people’s lives.

The Government recognise that their amendment to the adult social care charging system was considered controversial. However, it is necessary, fair and responsible. Everybody, no matter where they live in the country, no matter their level of starting wealth, will have the contribution they have to make to the cost of their care capped at £86,000. Those with lower levels of wealth will be far less likely to have to spend this amount, thanks to a far more generous means-testing regime that we will introduce. To be clear, the Government believe that nobody will be worse off in any circumstances than they are in the current system, and many people will be better off.

Furthermore, without this change, two people with the same level of wealth, contributing the same amount towards the cost of their care, could reach the cap at very different times. This is not considered fair. A fairer system is to have the same cap for everybody, and then provide additional means-tested support so that people with less are unlikely ever to spend that amount.

At its heart, this Bill is about integration. It builds on the lessons of the pandemic, when the NHS and local authorities came together as one system and not as individual organisations. New integrated care boards and integrated care partnerships will build on the progress made so far to plan, to join up services and to deliver integrated care. We are grateful for the work done to develop these clauses by both the NHS and the Local Government Association.

We have listened throughout the Bill’s passage in the Commons to concerns that we are enabling privatisation. Nothing could be further from the truth. To put this beyond doubt, we amended the Bill in the other place to make it clear that that no one may be appointed to an ICB who would undermine the independence of the NHS, either as a result of their interests in the private healthcare sector or otherwise.

Many noble Lords will be aware of the integration White Paper announced in September and currently in development. I can assure the House that this will build on the integration measures in the Bill, to go further and faster and to deliver person-centred care. We expect to publish it in early 2022.

As I have mentioned, a key aspect of this Bill is removing bureaucracy where it gets in the way. While bureaucracy often ensures that there are processes and procedures in place, we all know how excessive bureaucracy can make sensible decision-making harder. We believe that health and care staff are able to deliver better when they are trusted and given space to innovate, with barriers removed. Every NHS reform has claimed to reduce bureaucracy, with varied degrees of success, but such reforms have often been top-down. These reforms come not from the top down but from the bottom up, giving the NHS what it has asked for. This includes introducing a new, more flexible provider selection regime that balances transparency, reducing bureaucracy and fair and open decision-making.

It is right that the day-to-day decisions about how the NHS is run, both locally and nationally, are free from political interference. However, it is also right that there is democratic oversight and strong accountability in a national health system that receives £140 billion of taxpayers’ money every year. The public deserve to know how their local health system is being run. Integrated care boards will hold meetings publicly and transparently, and the Care Quality Commission will have a role in reviewing integrated care systems.

The Bill also ensures greater accountability from healthcare services to government, to Parliament and, ultimately, to the public. Through new powers of direction, the Government will be able to hold NHS England to account for its performance and take action to ensure that the public receive high-quality services and value for taxpayer money. Equally, we must ensure that there are safeguards and transparency mechanisms in place. That is why the Bill is clear that the new power of direction cannot be used to intervene in individual clinical decisions or appointments. The public also expect Ministers to ensure that the system conducts reconfiguration processes effectively and in the interests of the NHS and, where necessary, to intervene. In such instances, the Bill provides a mechanism for the Secretary of State to intervene, subject to the advice of the independent reconfiguration panel.

As we all know, the health challenges that we face are not static, so the NHS must continue to be dynamic. As the noble Lord, Lord Darzi, once said:

“To believe in the NHS is to believe in its reform”.—[Official Report, 11/10/11; col. 1492.]

The Government believe that this Bill allows the NHS to meet the challenges of today and adapt to those of tomorrow. With this Bill, we can look beyond treating disease and focus on prevention with measures to promote good health, such as tackling obesity and stopping the advertising of less healthy products to children. This Bill includes a range of important additional measures, including the establishment of the Health Services Safety Investigations Body, or HSSIB—a world-leading innovation in patient safety—and legislation to ban virginity testing to fulfil the Government’s commitment to the most vulnerable.

The Government believe that the founding principles of the NHS—taxpayer-funded healthcare available to all, cradle to grave and free at the point of delivery—remain as relevant now as they were in 1948. To protect these values, we must back those who make them a reality every day of their lives by building and constantly renewing a culture of co-operation and collaboration. I commend this Bill to the House.

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Baroness Uddin Portrait Baroness Uddin (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I spent some decades of my personal and professional life trying to improve health and social care through the statutory and voluntary sector. I welcome the prospect of refining the Bill in the interest of service users and staff alike, to whom I pay my deepest respects in the light of what has been an impossible and worsening situation for the health of our nation.

I recently witnessed two contrasting events: a patient in an acute ward for mental health, and another progressing though intensive care and then a surgical ward. The staff shortage and lack of adequate care support is indeed grave at every level, and I know my family will not be the first or last to share these harrowing experiences. Therefore, my principal reaction to the many aspects of this ambitious legislation and the report on adult social care is that they ring hollow as wishful prayers.

The Government have said that the Bill is driven by NHS demand. I fear that most frontline staff across the service do not agree; nor have they asked for the inevitable fragmentation and the huge structural upheaval which may result, given the existing shortage of staff and funding within the NHS and care sector as it struggles with Covid.

Of course, I hope that the panacea on the written papers will improve service users’ actual experience. Given the glaring lack of any meaningful references to workforce development and, ominously, of any indication that the long-standing consequences of inequalities and discrimination are being addressed, my confidence is rather low at this point.

We are asked to respond to a 10-year plan fit enough to address a massive, long-standing crisis where people are waiting to receive the urgent care to which they are entitled: 1.5 million hours of commissioned care is not being delivered and at least 400,000 adults and families are waiting for formal assessment. This gravely undermines the human rights of those who may already be experiencing a great deal of indignity, pain and desperation. Does the Minister accept that the new proposed boards and commissioning structures may create an even greater backlog of unmet needs?

How do the Government propose to address these anomalies while introducing the new challenges of means-tested personal care and private care companies into an already frail NHS, which struggles to manage current demands? According to the Royal College of Nursing, the Bill as it stands does not address nursing staff concerns, ensure patient safety or give adequate weight to staffing shortfalls in the NHS and the social care sector.

According to other leading experts, including ADASS, £1 billion for the social care sector, while extremely welcome, is not aligned to the reality of the £7 billion investment required to meet urgent needs, and is unlikely to remedy the current crisis in social care. The fear is that the prolonged and chronic historical underfunding—the insufficient resources allocated for social care in the community, which is a disjointed system at local level—will exert even more pressure and cause untold misery and suffering for individuals and families who are among the most vulnerable: the elderly, the disabled with learning disabilities and autism, and people needing mental health support. Integrated care will therefore remain dysfunctional locally, regardless of the fact that half the available social care budget is spent on working-age adults with learning and physical disabilities and the elderly to empower care in the community.

We know that supported housing is seen as a critical linchpin of independent living and is projected to increase by 2030. With only £300 million for these options, does the Minister accept that the Government will have to broaden their reach to widen the network of providers, including specialist and BAME providers, to provide comprehensive and equal care across all communities?

How will these proposals affect the lives of black and Muslim men experiencing mental health crisis who are festering in hospital wards without adequate support, counselling and rehabilitative programmes, and with next to nothing on prevention? I am pleased to hear the new announcement for funding for drug and alcohol treatment. As an experienced leader in the field of dealing with substance misuse at local and national level, I can assure the House that adequate funding for resources and social work support is indeed effective in preventing revolving doors, which can save the NHS and the justice system millions. As the distinguished noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, clearly and eloquently said, the Bill should be the right place to consider this service.

Caring institutions and organisations are often run by poorly paid and undertrained staff, including social workers, who are once again in our sight for scrutiny. I declare my interest as one. I have worked in child protection and with domestic violence victims and survivors, as well as those with disabilities and substance misuse problems. I understand the horrendous pressures at the front line.

I have two final points. The APPG on Children, alongside many leading NGOs, is anxious that the Bill does not do enough to bring the benefits of integrated working to children and families. I support its asking the Government to commit to assess the Bill’s impact on children within two years of its implementation. Lack of investment in social work, police and education has once again led us to a tragic death, that of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. As a social worker, I have witnessed the demeaning and catastrophic effect of child abuse. Heartbreakingly, it is a fact that lessons learned from what happened to diminish the hope, the smiles and Arthur’s last breath may not prevent the last cry of a child unless we empower staff at the front line of managing complex violence and abuse in our midst.

Finally, I draw the House’s attention to the points raised by the Inter-Collegiate and Agency Domestic Violence Abuse coalition. It views the Bill as an opportunity to deliver the health needs of survivors of domestic abuse. It rightly asks that the guidance for integrated care systems and partnership boards be placed on a statutory footing to ensure that it is adhered to across the health service. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shinkwin, that this guidance should also apply to those with learning disabilities and communication needs.

I welcome and congratulate noble Lords—

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, contrary to the clock, the noble Baroness has been speaking for nearly eight minutes. Perhaps she could bring her remarks to a conclusion.

Baroness Uddin Portrait Baroness Uddin (Non-Afl)
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I welcome and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham. I hope that we will all work together to enhance this Government’s efforts for better regulation. I hope that we can safeguard the needs of the most vulnerable in our society.

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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My Lords, I put on record my thanks and gratitude for this excellent and wide-ranging debate. I hope noble Lords will understand that I may not be able to answer every point in the time available—unless they are prepared to stay here all night. I am grateful for the constructive and thoughtful contributions of noble Lords from all sides of the House. When I first entered this House, a noble friend who was a Minister here and in the other place said that, in the other place, you are probably one of the few experts on the Bill you are taking through, but in this place there will be at least one other expert. I disagree: there are many experts who will know far more about this than I do, but I look forward to learning from noble Lords across the House and listening to their expertise.

I echo those who praised the excellent maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens. He will be a valuable addition to the House. I caution against describing him as a treasure, because the problem with treasures is that people want to lock them away, put them behind a glass case, or bury them.

The noble Baroness, Lady Merron, asked how the Bill would be different from previous reorganisations. I make it clear that this is not a reorganisation that comes from my office or my right honourable friend the Secretary of State’s office in Victoria Street. Instead, the Bill builds on the evolution up and down the country over the last decade led by the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham, to deliver joined-up care.

This is the right Bill at the right time, as the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, said. I was extremely struck by the contributions of the noble Lords, Lord Kakkar, Lord Adebowale, Lord Stevens, and my noble friends Lady Harding and Lord Hunt of Wirral, in support of the principles underlined in the Bill. I am grateful for their support. As the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, said, the Bill is not a cure-all; no Act of Parliament could ever be. However, it can set the framework for people to find solutions that work; that approach has been the guiding light.

I will now address some of the issues raised across the House. As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, said, integrating services around people is the only sustainable way of delivering high-quality health and care systems and, more importantly, delivering improved outcomes for everyone. This has been a goal of health systems across the world, and it is at the heart of the provisions in this Bill, including putting new integrated care systems on a statutory footing. To meet that challenge, a key principle of the Bill is to ensure that the legislative framework is flexible and responsive to local population needs. It is right that local areas should be able to determine the arrangements that work best for them. Frimley is not Cumbria; we should not try to create a one-size-fits-all single model for both.

To protect this flexibility, I ask noble Lords to consider whether it is appropriate to add additional prescriptions on membership and duties for integrated care boards and integrated care partnerships, although we will, of course, be happy to consider suggestions for additional guidance and support for the system. In that spirit, I hope that I can reassure the noble Baronesses, Lady Tyler, Lady Walmsley, Lady Masham, and other noble Lords who raised this, that we are working with NHS England and the Department for Education on bespoke guidance in relation to children, including the vital issues of safeguarding, special educational needs and disabilities.

I thank my noble friend Lord Farmer for raising the role of family hubs, and for his sustained work in advocating for the family hub model. I assure him that this Government have committed to championing family hubs and we are working to roll them out. I also assure the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, and other noble Lords that we are fully committed to supporting carers, including consulting them in the development of services. I reassure the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay and Lady Meacher, and my noble friend Lady Hodgson that integrated care boards will be responsible for commissioning palliative care services as part of a comprehensive healthcare service.

This may be a convenient moment to consider the question of parity of esteem, as raised by a number of noble Lords, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Thornton and Lady Watkins, my noble friend Lady Morgan of Cotes, the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, and others. References to health in the Bill will already apply to mental, as well as physical, health. Likewise, I hope that I can reassure many noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Patel and Lord Desai, and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, that tackling inequalities is deeply embedded in the Bill. Given the backgrounds of both my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and myself, we believe very strongly in tackling inequalities. At the same time, I remind noble Lords of the establishment of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, with the focus on disparities and tackling inequalities. It is important that we give our support in tackling disparities right across our nation.

Integrated care partnerships will plan to address local needs, including the wider determinants of health, and the triple aim places new duties on NHS bodies to consider the health and well-being of the people of England when discharging all their functions. I listened carefully to the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Merron and Lady Pinnock, on the principle of subsidiarity—the role of place. We want to empower local leaders to support integrated and person-centred care at place level.

The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, my noble friend Lord Lansley, the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, and others raised the question of why we are putting forward a two-board approach. This approach recognises the importance of integration, both within the NHS and between the NHS and its wider partners. I reiterate that this was co-designed with both the NHS and the Local Government Association. I hope that I can reassure the noble Lords, Lord Howarth and Lord Crisp, that ICPs—integrated care partnerships—will have flexibility to draw members from a wide range of sources including organisations with a wider interest in local priorities, such as housing providers and education, as well as art and culture organisations.

The noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, asked why the Bill provides for CQC assessment of integrated care systems. It is important that members of the public can understand how well their health and care system is collaborating and that their local hospital is providing a safe, high-quality service.

My noble friend Lady Blackwood and other noble Lords raised the importance of research. I assure the House that we share the objective of wanting to see research embedded in the health and care system, not only to improve healthcare outcomes but to contribute to the goal of making the UK a hub for life sciences globally.

To address the contributions from the noble Baronesses, Lady Bakewell and Lady Chakrabarti, I assure the House that we have no intention of opening the door to privatisation. As the King’s Fund has said, there is nothing in the Bill that is likely to drive more NHS funding towards private companies—a sentiment echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale. I also remind noble Lords that successive Labour and Conservative Governments have seen the value of collaboration between the voluntary sector, the private sector, social enterprises —as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and the noble Lord, Lord Kerr—and the state.

On integrated care boards, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Carlisle and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, asked about transparency. Integrated care boards are covered by the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings) Act and will be bound by the principles of openness and proper public engagement.

I listened to my noble friend Lord Bethell with great interest. I agree that data sharing is essential to true integration. I know that many other noble Lords support this but they also, rightly, raised some concerns. The information provisions in this Bill are part of a wider range of commitments set out in the draft data strategy. We will ensure that the system has the ability and competence to share and use data appropriately and effectively to benefit individuals, populations and the health and social care system.

I listened carefully to the many contributions on social care from the noble Baronesses, Lady Thornton and Lady Campbell, and many others. Social care reform is a challenge ducked by generations. Successive Governments have commissioned reports on social care only to see them gather dust on bookshelves and never be enacted. This is the first attempt for many years to tackle a long-standing issue. Many noble Lords have spoken about it being ignored for 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. Anyone who has looked at the history of demographics and economic history will know that this challenge was coming a long time ago, yet successive Governments have kicked it down the road. We hope that this Bill, alongside the upcoming integration White Paper and the recently published social care White Paper, will go towards meeting that challenge. The social care White Paper sets out a 10-year reform vision that puts people at the centre of social care. It will ensure greater choice, control and support to lead an independent life with fair and accessible care.

We are backing that vision with investment. The Prime Minister has announced an additional £5.4 billion to begin a comprehensive programme of reform, including an extra £3.6 billion to reform the social care charging system, an extra £300 million of investment in housing, £150 million of additional funding to improve technology and increase digitalisation across social care, and £500 million of investment in the workforce. As technology improves, we hope that the nature of social care will change, enabling many more people to spend longer lives in their own homes with adaptations and better technology. Would it not be great if the United Kingdom were at the forefront of those technological developments?

I recognise the strength of feeling in relation to Clause 140, but I remind the House that it is absolutely essential that noble Lords look at the package of social care reforms as a whole. Our reforms will stop unpredictable and unlimited care costs, significantly increase the means test to help those with the least wealth and help people to plan for the future.

I hope that noble Lords will recognise that, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said in the other place, nobody will be worse off in any circumstances than they are in the current system and many people will be better off. The reforms mean that the Government will now support an extra 90,000 older care users at any given time. Comparisons have been made to previous proposals for reforms to the charging system. I remind noble Lords that many of these were not in fact acted on, partly due to concerns over unaffordable costs. Unlike previous proposals, our reform package is credible, deliverable and affordable.

There has rightly been much discussion of workforce planning for the NHS and adult social care. I have listened carefully to the contributions on this very important subject made by many noble Lords, including my noble friends Lady Harding and Lady Cumberlege, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Cavendish and Lady Thornton. Ensuring that we have the health and care workforce that this country needs is a priority for this Government, and the most recent figures show that there are record numbers of staff working in the NHS, including record numbers of doctors and nurses.

The Bill builds on this work. Clause 35 will bring greater clarity and accountability to this area. The department has also commissioned Health Education England to work with partners to develop a long-term 15-year strategic framework for the health and regulated social care workforce. For the first time, this will include regulated professionals in adult social care. That work will look at the key drivers of workforce supply and demand over the longer term and set out their impact on the future workforce. We anticipate publication in spring 2022. Supporting all this work is our recent announcement of our intention to formally merge Health Education England with NHS England. Such a merger will help to ensure that workforce is placed at the centre of NHS strategy.

I now turn to some of the wider issues raised during this excellent debate. I beg your Lordships’ indulgence, as time may not permit me to answer every point raised, and I commit to write to noble Lords whose points I do not address. I hope noble Lords will forgive me for the time I may take to write some of those letters.

On the power of direction for the Secretary of State, I am afraid I cannot agree with the characterisation suggested by some noble Lords. Instead, I would echo the former shadow Minister in the other place who said that

“the public think that the politicians they elect are accountable for the decisions taken in the interests of their health”.—[Official Report, Commons, Health and Care Bill Committee, 21/9/21; col. 393.]

We agree. I would also like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, that Ministers have no intention of requiring hospitals to report on the movement of a broom cupboard. I am afraid that is a mischaracterisation, albeit a witty one, of how Ministers intend to use their power.

We anticipate that Ministers will be involved only where decisions become particularly complex or a significant cause of public concern, or if they cannot be resolved at a local level. Local NHS commissioners will continue to be accountable to NHS England and for developing, consulting on and delivering service change proposals. However, we believe that strengthening democratic oversight will make it more likely that the right decisions will be taken. Any decisions will be based on the evidence and consultations that have taken place, and where the Secretary of State chooses to intervene they will, rightly, be accountable to Parliament and the public.

I welcome support for the establishment of the Health Service Safety Investigations Body and agree with the noble Baronesses, Lady Merron and Lady Walmsley, and others that it is essential that the HSSIB is an independent body and a safe space. This is what the Bill delivers. It was always difficult to achieve the right balance between openness and getting people to come forward so that we can make sure that we improve and learn lessons.

As raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, the Bill contains a number of delegated powers. Many of these are not new but simply reflect the replacement of clinical commissioning groups with the new integrated care boards. Far from a power grab by the Secretary of State, many of these powers will be exercised by the NHS.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Pinnock and Lady Jones, and my noble friend Lord Reay raised the question of fluoridation. I gently remind noble Lords that although tooth decay can be prevented or minimised by adherence to a healthy diet, water fluoridation is seen to be the only intervention to improve dental health that does not require sustained behavioural change over many years. It also disproportionately benefits poorer or more disadvantaged groups.

As many noble Lords have commented, prevention is in many ways better than cure. That is why we are so concerned about childhood obesity, a concern shared by noble Lords across this House. It is one of the biggest health problems this nation faces, and I am grateful to many noble Lords for the support that related measures have received today. We want to be quite clear that, as these measures are taken forward by local integrated boards and commissioners, we must rely on evidence, learn lessons and, when something does not work, try something else. We have to use the power of discovery to make sure that we are finally able to put obesity to bed or to reduce it on a significant scale.

I was also grateful for the intervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, in relation to reciprocal healthcare agreements. I hope I can assure her that such arrangements will be entered into only when they are in the best interests of the people of the UK and the NHS. The NHS is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector, whether overseas or domestic.

I thank my noble friend Lady Cumberlege for her remarks and for her tireless work in championing patients, ensuring that the voices of patients and their families were heard in her First Do No Harm report. My noble friend continues to be a voice in the House for patients in general, and for the women and their families who have been so terribly affected by matters covered in her review. She continues to champion their cause and their calls for redress. We are committed to making rapid progress in all areas set out in our response, and we aim to publish an implementation report in the summer of 2022.

Finally, I welcome those, including my noble friend Lady Hodgson, who raised the issue of hymenoplasty. The Government agree that this is a repressive and repulsive procedure. We have convened an independent expert panel to make a recommendation on whether it should be banned. That recommendation will be published before Christmas.

This Bill is the product of extensive engagement with stakeholders across the health and care system, including partners in local government as well as the NHS. It will provide a platform that empowers local leaders across health and care to build back better and to continue to deliver a world-class service, fit for the 21st century and beyond. I urge noble Lords across the House to trust the judgment of our health and care staff as much as we value their commitment and their care. I know that noble Lords will work together to make this Bill better during the coming weeks and I commend the Bill to the House.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.