Draft Mental Health Bill

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Tuesday 28th June 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The noble Lord makes an incredibly important point. We have seen the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health across all age groups. During the Health and Care Bill, the noble Lord and many others raised the issue of parity between mental health and physical health, and I thank him for that. That brought home that the current legislation is out of date, which is why we really need to update it. I also thank noble Lords who have spoken so far for agreeing that this is not a party-political issue at all. We all want to address this issue, and maybe the issue of funding will come up. The Government remain committed to achieving parity between mental and physical health services to reduce inequalities. We are making good progress; investment in NHS mental health services continues to increase each year, from almost £11 billion in 2015-16 to £14.3 billion in 2020-21. We expect all current CCGs—and ICBs once operational —to continue to meet the mental health standard, and we have made a number of amendments. We are investing more than £400 million over the next four years to eradicate mental health dormitories. Clearly, as we go through the Bill, there will be financial implications, which will be considered as we debate it. I cannot give a clear pledge on which measures will be implemented until we have seen the Bill. Clearly, however, we understand that a lot of this is long overdue, so the quicker we can get this done and come to an agreement satisfactory to all sides of the House, the sooner we can get on with implementing it.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, I welcome many of the proposals contained in the draft Bill, particularly those that give people affected by the Bill more say over their treatment and care. However, as others have said, the Bill is currently worryingly silent on workforce issues, and I think we all agree that they will be critical to the successful implementation of any reforms. My specific question to the Minister is: what assurances can he give that children and young people aged 18 and under will benefit from the reforms at least as much as adults and, specifically, will they be able to access the same treatment safeguards as adults?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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When I was having initial discussions on the various parts of the Bill, children and young people’s mental health clearly came up. The statistics are staggering. Some 420,000 children and young people were treated through NHS-commissioned mental health services in 2021. That is an increase of 95,000 in just a few years. That is still without us being aware of everyone who needs access to the system, or young people and their parents and families being aware of what support is available.

We are continuing to increase investment into mental health services by at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023-24, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. There is also the extra money in response to the pandemic, which saw extra demand. We have 287 mental health support teams in place in around 4,700 schools and colleges across the country but, once again, more needs to be done. It is one of those issues where demand outstrips supply.

We now have mental health support teams covering 26% of the country a year earlier than planned, but we hope to increase this progressively over the years so that as many schools as possible are covered. We have delivered 7 million well-being for education recovery programmes. We understand the tensions and workforce issues that will inevitably arise. The Health Education England review and the Government’s strategic review are considering all the changes in healthcare overall; all the technologies and ways of delivering services; and the change from secondary to primary and down to the community. We are working out in the response what workforce we need for each of those changes.

Mental Health Services for Rough Sleepers

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Monday 21st March 2022

(2 years ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, the most common health problems among homeless people are substance abuse, as the Minister just mentioned, and mental health problems; often it is a combination of the two. Given this correlation, can the Minister say what the Government are doing to reconnect addiction services with health services in order to treat homeless people with multiple health problems? Does the Minister agree that specialist addiction services should be jointly commissioned by the NHS and local authorities to ensure full integration?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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Like many other noble Lords, the noble Baroness has raised a very important aspect of this issue. She is absolutely right that people with drug addiction often have physical and mental health needs as well. Mental health problems and trauma are often central to an individual’s dependence on drugs, alcohol or other forms of abuse. As set out in the drugs strategy, we are working with NHS England to ensure that there is joined-up service provision between specialist mental health services and substance misuse services for people with co-occurring issues, including those who are experiencing rough sleeping. We are also going to make sure that the next phase of integrated care system development includes leadership on drugs and alcohol to integrate both physical and mental healthcare and substance misuse services.

Vaccination: Condition of Deployment

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Thursday 3rd February 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for his question and for his longer-term engagement with me on this issue. I assure him that we are keeping this under constant review. The evidence changes. We are aware that new variants will arise, as is natural with any virus. Given the replication factor, when the virus replicates, there will be some imperfect replications and so there will be variants. That is just part of the virus spreading. As my noble friend acknowledges, we cannot give an absolute guarantee that there will be no new variants, but we are keeping an eye on all the variants and their continued transmission, along with the tools that we are using to protect workers, staff and everyone, to make sure that we are continuing to protect people as best as possible.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, I was pleased to hear the Minister say just now that some care homes will choose to keep this as a condition of employment because of the reassurance that it gives to both the relatives and the residents. In this increasingly fractious debate on mandatory vaccinations, one voice entirely missing has been that of patients, social-care users and care home residents on what they want. Could the Minister tell me, first, what consideration in the decision to change the policy was given to the wishes of patients and residents? Secondly, will patient-voice groups or relatives’ groups be included in the consultation referred to by the Minister? Thirdly, what will be the position of patients who, due to their own vulnerabilities, actually do not want to be treated by staff who, despite being given every opportunity, have chosen not to get vaccinated?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for raising that point. It is really important to note that, when engaging in debates such as this, it is sometimes easy to forget patients, and we should not do that. The health service should be all about patients; it should be patient-centred. I understand the concerns. One of the reasons that we originally introduced VCOD, particularly for care homes and then more widely, was that patients were very concerned and relatives of patients were concerned about their loved ones—they were terrified, given the early outbreaks that we saw in care homes. On the particular consultation, I am afraid that I do not have the information with me, but I will commit to write to the noble Baroness.

Adult Social Care

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I know that the noble Lord has been a champion in this area. We have been quite clear that, as we go forward, a number of issues have to be understood. For example, you cannot say that all unpaid carers are the same. They all have different needs: some can work and some cannot work; some can spend a couple of hours working and share their care duties with others; there are sole carers; some are elderly and some are younger. We want all the different partners to come together to discuss individual needs—including respite for carers, to rest and recharge—and to look at their financial situations. We have laid out that those who are not working may be eligible for other benefits on top of the care allowance that they get. We are exploring this. It is a process of discovery and we want to ensure that it works. We have therefore set out the vision and the three-year commitment.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, I would like to pursue the points that were raised a minute ago by the noble Baronesses, Lady Fox and Lady Watkins. Despite the welcome long-term aspirations in the White Paper, the reality is that the chronic workforce shortages in social care are getting worse, with uncompetitive pay being the main culprit. If Covid surges this winter because of the new variant, these workforce problems will be magnified, with potentially disastrous consequences. There are similar concerns with unpaid carers, as the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, has just said. With no new resources from the new levy coming on stream until October 2023, and all the fragilities that I have just described, what are the Government going to do to address the pay and retention issues now, over this winter?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The Government have been listening to the workforce and understand its pressures. We recognise that this is the vision, and that we need to look also at the short-term issues. We announced £162.5 million for the workforce recruitment retention fund, and the new Made with Care scheme to recruit social workers and to send a message that social work can be a rewarding career. We are talking to different bodies, including the Department for Education, about how we increase professionalisation. We have also increased the national living wage, meaning that many of the lowest-paid workers will be paid more. We are investing at least half a billion pounds in supporting the development and well-being of the social care workforce, including an investment in knowledge, skills, and well-being. We will work with partners to set the conditions for the professionalisation over a longer period. We cannot do this immediately; we want to consult the education sector and care and social care experts, to give recognition. That will be a precursor to making progress on pay.

Ambulance Response Times

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Wednesday 1st December 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for raising that point and making people aware of the challenges in Northern Ireland. As he will be aware, health is a devolved issue, but we are very much aware of the challenges in all four of the devolved Administrations. If he would write to me with extra information, I should be happy to pass it on.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, it is estimated that nationally, a quarter of patients in beds are clinically ready to leave hospital but cannot do so due to problems of discharge—particularly a lack of available care in the community. With fewer available beds, ambulances cannot discharge patients to a bed, leading to a lack of ambulances and paramedics available to deal with other emergencies. What plans do the Government have to deal urgently with the problem of discharge to help the NHS get through the winter?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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All noble Lords have raised important points about the pressures on different parts of the system. In taking a systemic overall view, the Secretary of State is holding regular “pressure” meetings and looking at the key metrics in getting those pressures down. He is also looking at how we can tackle things systemically from within, including discharge issues. We are looking at how to improve on discharges to make sure that there is enough space, thereby continuing to ensure not only that elderly patients are back in their homes as quickly as possible, but that we reduce the length of time that others have to wait for ambulances.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Monday 29th November 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The noble Lord raises an important point. I will double-check the details as I do not wish to mislead him or the House. Given that this is a fast-moving situation, in which the data is very new, changing constantly and constantly being reviewed, it would be more appropriate if I double-check before I answer.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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The new requirements are for all travellers arriving in the country to take a PCR test on or before day two and to self-isolate until they have received a negative test. However, on the government website today, it says that if someone has tested positive with a PCR, they should not be tested again using either a PCR or lateral flow test for 90 days, unless they have developed new symptoms. What are returning travellers who have tested positive in the last 90 days meant to do? Who is cross-checking the existing guidance against new regulations?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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All I can do is thank the noble Baroness for her question. I will have to double-check; as she will imagine, I do not have all the answers at the moment. Throughout the day, as I was preparing for this, the advice was changing constantly, and things were being swapped in. Advisers from the Department of Health and Social Care were saying, “This is the latest advice”, but it was changing literally hourly. I will try to get the latest advice and share this with noble Lords.

NHS England: Waiting Lists

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Tuesday 16th November 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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Immigrants have always played a vital role in our country. If we cast our minds back to the post-war period, there were massive shortages in healthcare but also other public services. Indeed, my own father came over to work on the railways and buses. It shows the importance of immigration and immigrants to this country from across the world.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that the fundamental problem confronting the NHS is a lack of spare capacity and resilience? This means that the NHS is continuously running at unsustainably hot levels of bed occupancy. The UK has 2.7 hospital beds per 1,000 population compared to an EU average of 5.2, and significantly fewer doctors and nurses. What plans do the Government have to urgently increase capacity and deal with workforce shortages, which cannot all come from training new people from scratch, given the timescales involved?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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If the noble Baroness looks at the statistics relating to the waiting lists, she will see that 75% of patients do not actually require surgical treatment: they require diagnostics. We have announced an investment in community diagnostic centres— sometimes in shopping centres or sports grounds—to make diagnostics more accessible to the public, rather than having to go to a healthcare setting. Moreover, 80% of patients requiring surgical treatments can be treated without an overnight stay in hospital, so they can do that as day patients. This is where we want to focus, along with making sure that we tackle all the waiting lists right across the board.

Covid-19

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Monday 15th November 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. At this afternoon’s No. 10 press conference, Professor Chris Whitty made it very clear that doctors and scientists are increasingly concerned about the average of 37,500 cases over the last week and the high number of Covid cases in hospitals. Professor Whitty said that it would be a tough winter and added that, in addition to the nearly 9,000 Covid patients in hospital, all other areas of the NHS are under growing and intense pressure. He recommended that, in addition to getting their vaccinations, everyone should use face masks and ventilation to help reduce the number of cases.

This morning, Oliver Dowden, who was just referred to, said “It is in our hands” whether further restrictions in plan B are put in place this winter, but clearly the Government’s current communications on just encouraging using face masks and ventilation indoors and on transport are simply not cutting through. It certainly was not on my Tube journey in today, where distressingly few people were wearing a mask. Even if the Government do not want to implement the whole of their plan B, why will they not at least mandate face masks and improving ventilation on public transport and indoors when so many people across the spectrum are crying out for this to happen?

Leaving it to individual choice and personal responsibility is far too weak and inconsistent a message. It is crystal clear that the Prime Minister does not want to implement plan B, but is the reality not that he is far more likely to have to do so—or, indeed, move straight to plan C, a total lockdown—if mask-wearing is not made mandatory immediately? Does the Minister agree with me, and the point just made by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, that all parliamentarians and most particularly Ministers have a duty to set a clear example of mask wearing inside and on public transport?

Professor Whitty highlighted the stark figure that 98% of pregnant women admitted to hospital had not been vaccinated, and that same ratio applied to those in intensive care. What specific steps are the Government and the NHS taking to talk directly to pregnant women to encourage them to have their vaccinations?

It was worrying this afternoon when the Prime Minister said that he “hoped” that booster and third jabs could be logged on the online system “soon”. We have been asking questions about this system for weeks now. Can the Minister look into Pinnacle, one of the systems that logs people’s Covid status, to find out why practitioners are not yet able to record a third jab for the clinically extremely vulnerable, as well as a separate listing for booster jabs for everyone else over 40? As the Prime Minister said this afternoon, evidence of booster jabs will be required for travel this Christmas, but because third vaccinations and booster doses are still not appearing separately on the NHS Covid app, there is a great deal of anxiety and frustration among people who will need not only to have had the jabs but to be able to provide the evidence. Can the Minister say—I underline the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton—when all third doses and boosters will be on the online system?

Finally, although I welcome the announcement that it is safe for 16 and 17 year-olds to receive a second dose, can the Minister explain where 16 and 17 year-olds will be able to get that second dose? Too often, young people wishing to have their initial jab were put off because they had to travel to a centre some way away, often by bus, train or car, often involving parents providing the transport. Will the Minister undertake to look into ensuring that there are centres in town centres and other easily accessible places so that young people can more easily access their second dose?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Baronesses for those sets of questions; I will answer them as best I can. I will work backwards, starting with where people can get their vaccines: the same places where the rest of the population can get their vaccines. Only last week, I booked my booster and was reassured to find that, rather than having to go even to my local doctor—which I was quite happy to do—there were two or three pharmacies, or chemist shops, near me that were giving the booster. One of my sons has booked his vaccine and that will be at the same pharmacy. So, clearly, we are rolling out the vaccines to more accessible places than initially; I do know someone considered clinically vulnerable who had to go quite far before, but we are now bringing the vaccines as close to people as possible.

I will try to answer some of the other questions. We are focused on building a wall of defence across the country. More than 261,500 hospitalisations have been prevented in those aged 45 and older, up to September 2021. Estimates suggest that 127,000 deaths and 24 million infections have been prevented as a result of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. This is why we are keen to stress that vaccination remains the best defence against this virus.

We are also working hard to make sure that as many people as possible have their jab as soon as they can. While we are very encouraged by the booster uptake and the record numbers, only today I have been in meetings where we have been talking about how to reach those hard-to-reach communities. I know that we have spoken about this before in this House. I have, very kindly, been offered advice from noble Lords across the House and I have been working with some noble Lords in relation to their experience as community organisers or working with certain communities where the demographics have shown a lower uptake. We are rolling out the programme, and there will be a publicity programme rolling out as well. As we get more data, the JCVI and others are even more reassured by the safety of the vaccines and want to stress that as much as possible.

As I said, we are rolling out the booster programme. Nearly 10.6 million people have now received their third dose, and we are looking to vaccinate children as quickly as possible. We are working closely with schools, colleges et cetera to make sure that we get as close to people as possible.

I had hoped to be able to give a date for the booster appearing on the app. A number of noble Lords raised this with me both formally and informally, and I got straight on to NHSX to try to get an answer. I had hoped to be able to announce a date today, but I am still not able to do that. I am told, however, that good news will be available soon, and I hope it will be announced as quickly as possible. I think there are a few more checks to go through; those who have been in government before will understand how this works.

On the issue of NHS capacity, as of 12 November the number of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients had decreased by about 4% across England in the last week. Regionally, there was a drop of 4% in the east of England; a 2% increase in London; a 5% drop in the Midlands; an 8% drop in the north-east and Yorkshire; a 5% drop in the north-west; no real change in the south-east; and a drop of 8% in the south-west. Hospital admissions have decreased by 10% across England last in the week. There was a drop of 16% in the east of England; an increase of 1% in London; a drop of 11% in the Midlands; a drop of 15% in the north-east and Yorkshire; a drop of 11% in the north-west; a reduction of 8% in the south-east; and a drop of 10% in the south-west. Rates of admission to hospital with Covid-19 therefore appear to be decreasing. Hospital admissions in England were at 821 people per day as of 10 November. There were 6,777 patients in hospital in England as of 12 November, including 838 patients in mechanical ventilation beds.

In line with the approach that we have taken, we are constantly relying on data from the JCVI and its judgment, and this is constantly being reviewed in terms of rollout to different age groups. We are very fortunate to have secured a steady supply and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines. Many will also be aware of the other method by which the dose can be taken.

On making sure that we are focusing on elective care recovery, we have given £2 billion to help tackle the backlog that built up during the pandemic and have committed £8 billion over the next eight years. We hope that that funding will deliver the equivalent of 9 million more checks, scans and procedures to tackle the backlog, and we hope to have 30% more elective activity by 2024-25.

Turning to care homes, one of the campaigns being launched is the “made with care” campaign, which is advertising the fulfilling careers that can be had as social carers. It is very much focused on people who want to make a difference to other people’s lives. There is £550 million, including £162.5 million on the “made with care” campaign, and noble Lords will see that campaign rolling out.

Fortunately, 90% of staff in in older-adult care homes have received both doses, and 94% of such staff have had at least one dose. The data we are getting shows that, where care home owners are able to sit down with the workers who may have some doubts, there is an increase in uptake. Also, on a temporary basis until 24 December, people who have a medical reason why they are unable to have a Covid-19 vaccine can self-certify that they are exempt on medical grounds until that can be proven one way or another.

I am trying to make sure that I am answering all of your Lordships’ questions. If there are some that I have missed, let me assure noble Lords that I have not done so deliberately, and I will write to them to fill that information gap.

Social Care

Debate between Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Lord Kamall
Wednesday 27th October 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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In looking at how we reform the adult social care workforce, we have consulted a wide range of stakeholders, not only on what we do from 2022 to 2025 but on what we do in the short term. Further details will be announced soon.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, £1 in every £12 spent by local authorities on social care goes towards funding mental health social care, supporting people of all ages who live with severe mental illness, and their carers. Can the Minister say what proportion of the planned levy will be used to fund mental health social care, which provides such a lifeline to all those affected?