Changes to Health and Care Bill bring mental health parity a step closer in Integrated Care Systems

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Houses of Parliament and river Thames
30 March 2022

All Integrated Care Boards will be required to include at least one member with expertise in mental health, thanks to a new amendment to legislation in Parliament.

A government amendment, tabled in advance of today’s Health and Care Bill debate in the House of Commons, places a duty on the chairs of the new boards to appoint at least one member with “knowledge and experience in connection with services relating to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness”.

The new amendment is a response to a House of Lords amendment tabled by Lord Bradley to ensure that every Integrated Care Board must have a member with expertise in mental health.

Integrated Care Boards are at the heart of the new health and care system. They will decide how NHS funding is spent in their areas and set annual plans for health and care services.

The Health and Care Bill sets out how they will work, what their aims will be, and who can be members. The Health and Care Bill has also been amended in Parliament to ensure Integrated Care Boards and NHS England account for their spending on mental health services and to pay greater attention to health inequalities both nationally and locally.

Centre for Mental Health welcomes the Government’s amendment. It should mean that every Integrated Care Board has at least one member with mental health expertise. This is vital to make ‘parity’ for mental health possible in local systems, with a place in the main decision-making body. Without it, mental health is too easily overlooked and undervalued.

Integrated Care Boards will have the power to improve mental health support in their areas and ensure investment is distributed fairly. They will also have an influence on the determinants of health and an important role in preventing illness. We hope that every Integrated Care Board will make mental health equality a priority in their area and listen to the views of citizens, communities and people using mental health services to make that a reality.

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