On 13th January 2022 the House of Lords debated the Health & Care Bill in its second day of committee. On behalf of the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Carlisle spoke in support of amendments seeking to reduce health inequalities:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I will speak on behalf of my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. She has added her name to Amendment 65, and we on these Benches support the other amendments in this group that seek to reduce health inequalities. As we have heard, these amendments would help to ensure that the Bill does not forget the underserved and disadvantaged in our society, many of whom have been mentioned already.
In the Christian and Jewish faiths, there is a Biblical concept—shalom—which embodies a sense of flourishing, generosity and abundance. Shalom can be summarised as experiencing wholeness, or a state of being without gaps. This is reflected in the World Health Organization’s definition of health, which is about not only the absence of disease but mental, physical and social well-being. It is a vision for individuals and for the whole of society. Our efforts to design a more holistic health service are, in effect, aimed at achieving that sort of shalom. We see this clearly in the decision made to place 42 integrated care systems across the country. What is not yet apparent is the relationship of these systems and boards to the wider community.
This Bill must seek to involve local communities—and not just professionals—in the reduction of health inequalities. These amendments highlight the monitoring of both physical and mental inequalities, take account of the experiences of young people and children and place more emphasis on the strength of local interventions to help reduce and prevent health inequalities. I commend them wholeheartedly to your Lordships’ House and to the Minister.
Extracts from the speeches that followed:
Baroness Thornton (Lab): I also thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Carlisle and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for speaking to the amendments about monitoring. Those of us who have been involved in dealing with equalities for the whole of our working lives know that if you do not monitor, assess and count, you will not know what effect you are having. Amendment 65 particularly recognises that, and that monitoring is vital to tackling inequalities.
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