JUST when is the SNP going to come down from its independence cloud and face the realities that ordinary Scots do? The Scottish NHS is in deep trouble and heading for worse. The Audit Scotland annual report has warned the NHS was " seriously struggling to become financially sustainable" ("Warning for NHS over £207m funding black hole in two years", The Herald, October 24). This is shocking.

Literally the life-blood of Scotland is its NHS and the mismanagement of this critical service by the SNP is totally unacceptable. It simply does not have the correct policies to attract and retain staff or the taxation policies to grow the economy. The signs are everywhere except in the ivory towers of Holyrood, where all such problems are simply brushed aside with bland statements of intent.

Buoyed by the vagaries of poll leads Nicola Sturgeon seems to have warmed to the idea of a General Election. She hopes it will be about independence, but many others will see more grassroots concerns such as health, education, transport and the economy as to be what they cast their vote for even if it is for Westminster and not Holyrood.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

AUDIT Scotland's report on the stretched financial position of our NHS makes worrying reading, not least because it highlights how spending decisions in Scotland are distorted by priorities set in Westminster.

Scotland's proportionate share of UK defence spending comes to approximately £5 billion, much higher than countries of similar size such as New Zealand at £1.8bn and Ireland at £1.2bn and higher even than countries with very much larger populations such as Switzerland and Austria.

The difference in Scotland's share of military spending is, of course, accounted for by Westminster's desire that the UK be a world power with global military reach and with a nuclear capability that makes Scotland a prime military target, something I'm sure that the great majority of Scots have no wish to be.

How much better it would be if Scotland was able to set its own priorities, a military budget suitable to our position within Nato and perhaps £3bn more to spend on the NHS.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

IT is a great pity that the proposed Citizens' Assembly has been politicised by those who seek to find fault in the Scottish Government regardless of its purpose or future benefit to the people of Scotland.("Taxpayers face £1.4m charge for 'SNP talking shop' Citizens' Assembly, The Herald, October 24). The setting up of such an assembly is a noble idea rooted in genuinely populist democratic ideals that seeks to set out a path in economic, political and social terms for our country in the future. The idea has already been used in Ireland, Poland and Australia with some success and, rather than pour scorn on a sincere attempt to involve our own citizens in the improvement of the country, critics should see past parochial political interests and petty denunciation of any policy decision reached by the First Minister and her government.

The Citizens' Assembly is an enterprising proposition that enhances our democracy and treats our people as stake holders and not electoral fodder. The charge of £1.4 million to enable this scheme could certainly be money well spent for future generations. As the grossly excessive spending on Brexit preparations nears £3 billion (and counting) the money spent on our Citizens' Assembly project pales into insignificance.

Owen Kelly, Stirling.

THE fascinating documentary on the Skye Bridge toll protest (BBC Scotland, October 22) was another enlightening exposé on the double dealings of a distant Westminster government, ignorant and dismissive, to the economic fragility of the Highlands and Islands. In the early 1990s the extortionate Skye Bridge toll, one way, was £5.40 compared to 80p on the Forth Road Bridge which was in line with toll charges throughout the UK. Only in 1999, after years of protests and civil disobedience, did the newly-elected devolved Scottish Parliament halt the tolls.

With rising opinion polls for indyref 2, independence is now a serious prospect in view of a Brexit UK dominated by right wing anti-Europeans obsessed with immigration and deluded past glories. As Scotland's position and interests have been repeatedly ignored this so called "precious" Union has been fatally broken. An independent Scotland, in association with Europe and open to the world, is the only logical answer.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore.

YOU report that Ruth Davidson has been appointed to a position with Tulchan Communications ("Davidson to be paid £50k for 24 days’ work a year", The Herald, October 24). The Concise Scots Dictionary informs us that a tulchan is “a person appointed nominally to an office, the power and emoluments being diverted to another” and that the word derives from the Gaelic for a stuffed calfskin which was supplied to a cow to induce her to give more milk when there was no real calf. One wonders why the managers chose that name.

Kenneth Fraser, St Andrews.

Read more: Warning over £207m black hole for NHS Scotland by 2021