We’re working with the Health Devolution Commission to ensure the new Health and Care Bill has a positive impact on the mental health of communities.

The long-awaited Health and Care Bill has been published by the government and will be debated in parliament in advance of the summer recess at second reading stage.

The Bill aims to make the NHS less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated in the wake of COVID-19.

It will ensure each part of England has an Integrated Care Board and an Integrated Care Partnership responsible for bringing together responsibilities of local NHS and local government – such as mental health services, social care and public health advice – to deliver more joined-up care for local people.


A key area of interest of ours is the opportunity for the Bill to extend community-led counselling provision by enhancing the role of Integrated Care Systems to help provide more accessible support for people and communities most affected by the pandemic. 

We’ll be lobbying government to achieve this important objective.  

To strengthen our lobbying on the Bill we’ve joined the Health Devolution Commission, chaired by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Health Secretary.

The Commission also includes a cross party grouping of former Health Ministers including Sir Norman Lamb, Alistair Burt, Stephen Dorrell and Phil Hope.

We were pleased to sit on the Commission and to contribute to the its recent publication Levelling Up Health.

This report makes 28 detailed recommendations to influence the Health and Care Bill including on the purpose of the reform and the future power relationship between the NHS, local government and other stakeholders including the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise and patient representative bodies.

It concludes that better and more personalised, local and integrated NHS, mental health, social care and public health services and a relentless focus on addressing health inequalities should be at the heart of the government’s reorganisation.

Increase support for counselling

Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, said: “The Health and Social Care Bill provides an important opportunity to increase support for counselling and help ensure those whose mental health has been most impacted during the pandemic have access to the support they most urgently need.

“In particular, we’re keen to ensure that third and community sector providers will have greater opportunities to provide more joined up, specialist counselling and psychotherapy support, which is both accessible and acceptable to people from diverse communities and backgrounds.

“We also recognise some of the controversial aspects of the Bill will need to be carefully managed, including concerns about the role of private health care within local decision making.

“We’ll be working closely with members of the Health Devolution Commission throughout the passage of the Bill to lobby government to ensure the Bill has a genuinely positive impact on the mental health of local communities.”

Mr Burnham, who has been pioneering the Integrated Care System model the government plans to roll-out across England, said: “The case for the long-overdue reform of health and social care in this country has never been stronger, but it has to be done right.

“This report sets out three core principles which must drive that reform if we are to create an effective integrated system fit for the future.

“The first must be establishing a genuine partnership of equals between the NHS and local government to deliver person-centred care.

“The second is that real levelling up must underpin all of these reforms: levelling up between DHSC and local government, between NHS services and social care, between physical and mental health, and between treatment and prevention.

“All of this is crucial to redressing the stark health inequalities that still exist across the country.

“The third is that there is a commitment to putting local expertise at the heart of these plans. It must be our local authorities with adult social care responsibilities, like those here in Greater Manchester, that are the building blocks of Integrated Care Systems.

“This is the starting point to take forward integration and delivery, and to ensure effective, place-based services for local communities.”