Bishop of Leeds praises “heroic” work of NHS staff in Lords health debate

On 14th January 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Turnberg “that this House takes note of the ability of the National Health Service to meet present and future demands.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate.

BpLeeds2The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate. Much of what I was going to say has been said and I do not intend to repeat it. I have surveyed some of the National Health Service foundation trusts in my diocese and there are common threads, both of opportunity and concern: financial, operational and clinical. Yet it ought to be said that some of the administrations of these health services are doing heroic work at a time of enormous complexity and constraint. Again, as has been said about the need to raise morale among staff, we should at least thank and congratulate those who are making the system work despite the challenges.

As demands rise, constraints are harder to deal with. I will throw into this that questions around PFI will have to be addressed at some point because of the deficits that some of our trusts are facing. One obvious issue here is that collaboration across key organisations at a system or place level is made difficult when each is bound by an independent regulatory regime and independent internal governance arrangements.

The relationship between health and social care was raised earlier. Social care is means tested. If you want to shift people out of acute beds in hospitals and into social care, there has to be a smoother route for doing it; obstacles should be handled or dismantled.

Finally, in relation to questions about the future, I will raise the question of chaplaincy—not as a bit of special pleading but because chaplaincy recognises the holistic nature of the care of people. In a debate such as this, we very easily talk about money, finance constraints and administration systems, but looking at the whole needs of people, so that they cease to be just medical cases or numbers or bed throughput, will be increasingly important.