YOU report that some GPs are refusing to write free prescriptions recommended by the homeopathic hospital at Gartnavel ("GPs caught up in row over homeopathic prescriptions", The Herald, November 28, and Letters, November 30).

It is difficult to agree with Alex Neil, the Health Secretary, that they have a moral obligation to provide such prescriptions: most investigators have concluded that there is no evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic remedies and no rational explanation of how they could be efficacious, so the question is why patients are referred to the hospital in the first place, if indeed their doctors do refer them there.

I hope to hear in the course of time that the hospital has been forced to close by the withdrawal of NHS funding, thus freeing the premises for a more appropriate use.

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Paul Fletcher,

96 Baronald Drive,


I NOTE with interest your leader on standards in hospital care which includes recommendations for more flexible visiting arrangements ("Benefits of change can be felt by all", The Herald, November 26). I would like to suggest a more radical proposal than those suggested in the comments by Dr Jason Leith.

Apart from a prison sentence an admission to hospital is the most disempowering experience imaginable. Prisoners have control over who may visit them and rightly so. Hospital patients are a captive audience to anyone who cares to call.

I propose that as part of the admission process patients are asked who they would like to visit them and when. Anyone else seeking to visit would not be admitted without the patient's approval.

There is nothing more dispiriting than being surrounded by friends and acquaintances when feeling sick, depressed, anxious or trying to adjust to bad news. In some instances people are unable to have precious time with partners or close family members because of a stream of wellwishers.

By giving control of visiting arrangements to individual patients the hospital experience would be more tolerable and patients would retain control of at least this aspect of their hospital stay.

Susan Baird,

124 Springbank Road.