We will protect health service

EDITOR – Of particular concern to many constituents are the proposed reforms to the National Health Service.

The health budget was increased massively under the previous Government, while suffering a huge decline in productivity.

We are now increasing the £100 billion NHS budget by £11.5 billion every year until 2014, making healthcare one of the few areas in which this Government is spending comparatively more of your money, not less.

To make this worthwhile, we must make the NHS more efficient. Hospitals such as the John Coupland Hospital in Gainsborough, which routinely receives glowing reports, deserve to be run by the medical staff – not an army of bureaucrats.

I have occasionally worked with chronically disabled people in France and it seems quite clear to me that the first duty of a civilised society should be to look after its most vulnerable members.

Why should British people be forced to travel to the other side of Europe for simple dental procedures? Why should waiting lists be so long in Britain, compared with those on the Continent? Why should British life expectancy be lower than practically every other Western European nation?

This coalition has not been popular and opinion polls show that; if there were to be an election tomorrow, Labour would be back in power.

However, it is reasonable to say that ‘phase one’ of the coalition is over.

Our most recent budget, broadly speaking, did not throw up any nasty new surprises. The period of cutting is mostly behind us.

As we seek to instil confidence in the economy, the Government must ensure that financial growth – vital for the public sector services – will push through the parched earth of our indebted economy and rise to meet the high expectations which citizens should hold of the Government that represents them.

It is disturbing to hear that personnel from our armed forces are to be deployed on the ground in Libya.

The threat of “mission creep” – the expansion of a project beyond its original goals – looms over all our endeavours in that country.

During the debates on our military intervention in North Africa, I sought reassurances that we would not be drawn further into this civil war.

Now we are told, through the press, that we and other western nations will be supplying military advisors to the rebel forces based in the east of Libya.

I refused to vote for the military action in Libya because it is readily apparent there is no long-term strategic thinking behind our actions there.

The Government should have a hard think about what our country’s geopolitical interests are in the world, state them plainly and openly for us all, and then craft our actions in the global arena to pursue those interests. At the moment, they seem to be grasping at straws.

Edward Leigh

MP for Gainsborough