Watch the full debate from Tuesday 18 January 2022 below, with Lord Mawson’s Contributions listed underneath.
41A: Schedule 2, page 137, line 30, at end insert—
“(d) one voting member nominated by place-based partnerships to represent their collective views in delivering their strategy.”
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, reminded us last Thursday that we have been talking about the social determinants of health and health inequalities for 40 years. It is now time to act. I want to get practical, and my three amendments are all about the practical detail—the “how” questions—about the transformation of the health culture and about new ways of thinking and working. My focus is on the first small, necessary steps on this journey.
Following my speech at Second Reading, I begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, for agreeing to meet with me and the chairman and CEO of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in north-west Surrey and allowing us to share with him and his colleagues, in more detail, the work that we have been doing there in recent years. This is set out in Hansard. This work builds on 37 years of work that my colleagues and I have been doing at the Bromley by Bow Centre in east London on the integration and place-making agenda.
The principles of the work in Bromley-by-Bow are now well known and are being shared with communities right across this country, and this work is now starting to have a national reach, through the Well North Enterprises programme, which I lead. I declare my interests. The work in north-west Surrey is one further practical example of what happens when you start to take these principles to scale and apply them to the place and neighbourhood agenda, which I suggest needs to be strengthened in this legislation.
The NHS is in some difficulty, and much of the narrative that underpins it is from the last century and now well out of date. The chairman of Ashford and St Peter’s hospital describes it as a “financially unsustainable illness service”, not a health service. Science and modern understanding of the integrated nature of life and health have, in recent years, taught us a great deal about the social determinants of health. Ironically, the pandemic has forced all of us—the nation, if not the world—to return to the simple question: what is health? Nowadays, we all know that health is no longer simply a biomedical matter for doctors and hospitals—indeed, it never has been. The Peckham experiment on the social determinants of health was telling us all this early in the last century, but the NHS in 1948 thought that it knew better and chose not to continue with this approach.
Health is everybody’s business. It is not just the domain of health professionals, hospitals and just one government department. If 70% of the determinants of health are social, and if our present business model for the health service is unsustainable, we desperately need to return to the central question: what is health? What changes to the narrative on services and provisions does the state now need to make to respond to this modern understanding of what health is all about? We need to get upstream towards prevention and early intervention. For this modern generation, which takes integration for granted, the siloed approach of the state will no longer cut it.
Over the last 37 years, my colleagues and I have built practical working pathfinder projects in real neighbourhoods with local people. Others may well refer to these in this debate, so I will not waste the Committee’s time now. The Bromley by Bow Centre is in London’s East End and is well known nationally and internationally, but we have been involved in other projects. Today, the Bromley by Bow Centre is responsible for 43,000 patients on four sites in Poplar. Working with local partners, we have built the first independent housing company, which is resident controlled and has connected health, housing, education and jobs and business skills. Today, it brings together people from many nations of the world who live there, around practical place-making, health and social projects. This housing company now owns 10,000 properties, owns 34% of the land in Poplar and has in play a regeneration programme worth many millions of pounds.
Today, the Bromley by Bow centre is visited by over 2,000 people from the public sector and across the world, who we find are desperately asking the same questions as us. These are the practical questions—“how” questions—about how we bring together the health services, local authorities and voluntary and business sectors and generate a 360 degree response to people’s health needs and lives and the opportunities in local communities. This is not a simple matter, but I suggest that the place to start is not in the macro but in the micro: in local communities and neighbourhoods, where lots of talent and opportunity lie that are not being tapped and never will be if you do not join them up and develop a very different approach.
In 2015, Duncan Selbie, who at the time was CEO of Public Health England, asked me to take this place-making work and the working principles of the Bromley by Bow Centre into towns and cities in challenging communities across the country. In partnership with the NHS, local authorities and business and voluntary sector partners, we created 10 innovation platforms in Bradford, Rotherham, Skelmersdale, Doncaster et cetera. We did not write policy papers or research documents, which, in my experience, often few read; we created practical learning-by-doing environments. The clues that we have found are local—in people and relationships—and not necessarily national.
My three amendments seek to use this legislation to tap into this local talent to take the first steps on the road to integration, with a necessary focus on the local, the place, the neighbourhood and the community. Health is a social matter: it is not just about private individuals, and we now desperately need to get upstream on the health agenda in this country and move forward.
This legislation, and the integration White Paper that is soon to follow, can help us all take the first steps in this century in the transformation of the NHS. I suggest that the micro is the way into the macro; it is not the other way around. In local neighbourhoods across the country, at a human level, we now need to create innovation platforms in local places and neighbourhoods, with public sector leaders and local people willing to support and generate new integrated approaches to health, and learn from them. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
As we expand our work across the country through practical engagement, we are finding that lots of people already get all of this. Many of them are in the public sector and the NHS and are desperately frustrated with the present state of affairs. They want to be health creators, but the system is not harnessing their creativity and energy—so, often unintentionally, it is pouring treacle into their projects and disempowering them, creating an ill organisation.
Link to the debate published on Tuesday 18 January 2022
My Lords, there is just one amendment in this debate. My other two come further on.
Link to the debate published on Tuesday 18 January 2022
My Lords, I thank the Minister for those thoughts and comments. I also thank noble Lords who have supported this amendment and this very encouraging debate. The purpose of today was to open up a discussion about these issues. They have been very well aired and I think the discussion needs to go further. Certainly, I would like to take further with the Minister and his colleague the discussion around the implications. My concern is to ensure that the significance of place and neighbourhood and that the role of the micro is absolutely clear at an ICB level. Senior colleagues in the NHS where I am working warn me to be very careful about this. The danger is that fine words will be used, but as others have said, this is not about words; this is about understanding the actions that now need to take place to really transform the health service. The micro and the macro need to learn to dance together, and that will not happen unless there is greater clarity on it. It has been a helpful conversation and one that I hope will be taken further.
I have a few final thoughts. It has been good to have colleagues from different parties and very different backgrounds in this discussion, which I have found very helpful. This is not a party-political matter; this is about the next 20 or 30 years of the National Health Service. There are likely to be different Governments and different parties with responsibility, but laying the foundation stones correctly and getting the detail right—it is all about the devil in the detail, in my view—is really important.
It was very interesting to hear bits of the history. It was Lord Michael Young who came to see me, many years ago, in Bromley by Bow, precisely because he got very interested in what we were doing. It was not just that he joined us as a community and became our patron—we have had patrons from different parties; Lord Peyton from the Conservative Party was a patron for many years, as was Lord Ennals from the Labour Party. Lord Young ended up asking me to marry him and his new wife. I had to do the marriage, and eventually the baptism of his child, so there is a long history. Allison Trimble, my former chief executive, was called to work in the King’s Fund precisely to help it understand the devil in the detail of what we were discovering, so this debate brought back many memories for me.
One of the last few things to say is that it is important in this journey that we create a learning-by-doing culture. This culture is very well known to science. In part of my life, I work with Professor Brian Cox, who knows a thing or two about science. I think the reason we get on is that we both understand that science and entrepreneurship are profoundly connected. It is not just the health service, in my view, but the whole public sector that needs now to embrace a learning-by-doing culture that moves beyond strategy and process into learning from the practical things it does and does not do.
Finally, I thank Suzanne Rankin, the chief executive of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals, and the chairman, Andy Field—Suzanne is a brilliant chief exec and Andy is a rather excellent chairman—for joining in this conversation with the Minister. I also thank colleagues from the hospital, who I think we would agree have been very brave, and who have now, with four local authorities, set out on a journey to lead the way in Surrey on what this might mean when you start to move it to scale. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 41A withdrawn.
Amendment 41B not moved.