Edward Leigh column: Talk about the NHS and taxation

Edward Leigh MP
Edward Leigh MP

When in doubt, pass a law. This attitude seems all too common today.

As I recently pointed out in the Commons, every time there is a scandal, the response of the British political establishment is to load more controls, accountability, and bureaucracy on professionals, yet every nurse and doctor I meet is fed up with what already happens.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has introduced a series of reforms in the wake of the scandal at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. I asked him if he could assure us that, after these reforms, we will now trust professionals to get on with the job they love.

I’m happy to say the Health Secretary agreed with my sentiments very strongly. “In parallel to this process and these changes,” he said, “I have asked the NHS Confederation to recommend how we can reduce the bureaucratic burden on hospital front-line staff by a third.”

I know that I have confidence in my doctor and I have been impressed every time I visit a hospital by the unfailing professionalism of all the staff. This is not to say that the way our National Health Service was conceived is ideal – but I think we all respect the job our doctors and nurses do. We want them to get on with that job the way they know how, and it’s important that the Government works alongside the unions to see what more can be done to free up our doctors and nurses for the real meat and potatoes of the job they do.

The Government needs to think seriously about a radical overhaul of this country’s tax system. We have the biggest tax code in the world – having overtaken India’s a few years ago – and this level of massive complication is inherently biased against ordinary working individuals and families and against our small- and medium-sized businesses.

Big companies and rich individual can afford to support an entire industry of accountants in order to pay the least amount of tax legally possible, but what about the rest of us?

Edward Leigh

MP for Gainsborough