HOW appropriate it was to read Sheila Duffy and Thelma Edwards’s letters (March 30). Like Sheila Duffy I, too, have cause to be eternally grateful to all branches of the NHS; 30-plus years of living with Crohn’s Disease, numerous hospital stays, countless out-patient clinics and two major surgeries have left me very thankful to live in this country. It’s no exaggeration to say that I owe our doctors and nurses my life and my many recent years of good health.

However, like Thelma Edwards, and along with many neighbours on Thursday night, I clapped and cheered for the NHS. Admittedly, it felt good to be part of a community, all united in praising our health service providers. But what mattered most of all was that, on returning indoors, I texted my next-door neighbours, both of whom work for the NHS, one as a nurse, one as a care provider, to ask if they had heard the support. I knew they hadn’t come out, mainly because they were tired after shifts, but they were very touched to hear the racket that we managed to make with our whistles, cheers and claps. They appreciated that small gesture of thanks and encouragement.

I agree fully with Sheila Duffy about a properly funded NHS and share her views on Trident. Her anger at the misuse of our taxes is completely understandable and I share her wish for a rearrangement of priorities when we eventually come through this current situation, but I don’t agree that Thursday’s gesture was meaningless. It meant a lot to my friends and, while it is no substitute for a decent living wage, I hope it helped all NHS workers to know how much we appreciate their heroic work in these appalling times.

Janice Taylor, Carluke.

ANENT Sheila Duffy’s doorstep applause: although in agreement with her, I am reminded of the Beyond the Fringe sketch where RAF CO Peter Cook sends pilot officer Jonathan Miller off on a pointless one-way mission with the words “At this point (in the war) we need a futile gesture”. As Thelma Edwards 's letter attests, we also need one now.

I clapped.

WL Kemp, Lochgilphead.

THE First Minister has performed admirably in leading the coronavirus fight up until now. I am concerned at the words of Jeane Freeman announcing the new temporary hospital with the emphasis that it will be entirely staffed by NHS staff ("One in three intensive care patients treated for virus", The Herald, March 31). I feel it would be a mistake not to use private hospitals with top of the range facilities and staff because of political ideology, in a national emergency.

A politician taking a decision against their political instincts in the national interest, would be courageous and largely understood by the wider public.

I do not envy the political elite their forthcoming decisions. The lockdown will be released when decisions about the economy and the mental health, loosely, of the population override continuing severe (currently necessary) restrictions.

The likely truth of the previous paragraph is clearly shown in, the fact that if the politicians from now on shut everything down, as now, from every October to March there will be a huge reduction in influenza deaths every year. If we never again have Christmas or New Year parties, then lives will be saved.

The sheer impracticality of this means that we should be sympathetic to our politicians, scientists and medics, when they make the difficult and always arguable decision, when to end the current restrictions.

John Leonard, Falkirk.

I AM trying hard to maintain my personal coronavirus amnesty with Nicola Sturgeon whereby I stop viewing her every word and action, good or bad, through the prism of independence. She undoubtedly has had a "good virus".

I've also, along with many other Scots, warmed to Boris Johnson in recent months, especially his economic and public health performance in the last four weeks.

It seems many of your correspondents are unable to do this. It's almost as if the PM has been personally coughing in their faces. They pick, trivially, on his demeanour but it is their opinions on readiness and strategy that are, in my view, undermining all those responsible for managing the situation, not least Ms Sturgeon and her team.

But don't take my word for it. Her right-hand man, Professor Jason Leitch has emerged as a beacon of good, apolitical, clear information, and advice.

On Sunday Politics Scotland, ably assisted by Gordon Brewer's intelligent questioning, he gave a very reassuring, realistic, description and explanation of the strategy, thinking and practicalities of the approach being taken, especially regarding the three main sources of grievance: testing, ventilators and intensive care capacity.

It was extremely reassuring and it is a pity that BBC Scotland seems to forget to put Sunday Politics Scotland on the iPlayer these days.

Time will tell if the UK approach was the right one, but if Prof Leitch says it is, it's good enough for me.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

YOUR lead letter (March 31) and its accompanying photograph of the UK Cabinet, is, I am afraid some 20 years out of date.

Since 1999, the National Health Service and public health policy in Scotland have been devolved to Holyrood, and indeed even before that were devolved to the Home and Health Department at St Andrew's House. Therefore the Scottish National Health Service was free at any point to anticipate the effects of a potential pandemic, and to use its procurement powers to equip itself with PPE and and to mobilise testing accordingly. Why, like its counterparts elsewhere in the UK, it failed to do so is probably a question for another day.

When that time comes, it will be more accurate to ask why our governments (plural) were not be better prepared. And to head the story with pictures of Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman as well as of Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow G13.

THERE can be few of us who have not been impressed by the performance of our First Minister in this time of crisis. Competent, inclusive, caring and open to scrutiny, we are fortunate to have her unifying style of leadership at such a difficult time for our nation.

By contrast, I can't help but wonder whether Mr Salmond would have had the character and leadership qualities necessary for the current situation?

When all this is over and normal politics resume, I would ask why nationalists would consider choosing as their potential leader a divisive figure of dubious character to seek to win over the waverers to the cause of independence? It makes no sense to me.

Richard Carey, Rosemarkie.

IAN McConnell ("A V-shaped recession is best outcome but is it achievable?", Herald Business, March 27), examines the parlous state of the UK economy going into the coronavirus shutdown and how it might look if and when the nightmare is over was as good an independent analysis of the position as one is likely to find anywhere in the country.

But, comprehensive though it was, he omitted what is, for me, the big question, namely, in the worst-case scenario, does the UK and indeed the rest of the world have enough real, backed-up money, hard cash to ride out an economic crash that is likely to shake the established order to its foundations?

Household and business budgets rely on income at the very worst equalling expenditure, short-term borrowing occasionally bridging the gaps, but when, as is the case for the UK and world economies for the foreseeable future, income falls off a cliff whilst expenditure heads exponentially in the opposite direction, at what stage does the world grind to a halt due to lack of liquid funds?

As such, perhaps in a future Called to Account column, Mr McConnell could turn his not-inconsiderable mind to the nuclear option, namely, when all the stocks and shares, shiny metals, petro-dollars and bricks and mortar have been rendered valueless, what happens when the music stops?

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.

LIVING through this strange period of our lives, I couldn’t help drawing parallels with the science fiction short story, The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury.

Published in 1951, it offers us a glance into the future when Leonard Mead goes for long walks every evening by himself. It is 2053. Nobody reads any more and nobody walks and he is arrested for taking a walk. People remain indoors watching television and using technology and avoid interacting with the outside world.

I recall our English teacher back in the 1970s saying sardonically that we would probably never live in such a world.

Finally, the pedestrian is stopped by a police car which is robotically operated and he is taken away to a psychiatric hospital for tests as he is seen as a threat to the society in which he lives. His society has been overtaken by technology.

Hopefully, this period of our lives will make us appreciate, as Leonard Mead did, the simple pleasures of a walk and communicating with each other in a simple way, both of which were lost in the world of 2053 but which seem to have been resurrected in the last week.

After this dark period, we will come into the light and, hopefully, we will appreciate our freedom and our world, both of which we tend to take for granted.

P Dunbar, Newton Mearns.

AT the risk no doubt of considerable unpopularity I would like to say that contrary to views expressed in The Herald recently, country parks are just the place to exercise to avoid close encounters of an undesirable kind. Those escaping crowded city walkways and smaller parks should be encouraged, not deterred from doing so (provided that they can avoid using the loos).

And why on earth should people be told to stay home and off the hills, where they can certainly keep well away from others? As for getting there, while using public transport would be a bad idea, cars are pretty good self-isolators. Keeping an outing short rather than long is totally irrelevant, except in inner-city areas where lesser usage could help to avoid overcrowding.

Could we perhaps remember that the purpose of the restrictive advice is to avoid transmission of the virus from one person to another, not to prevent people from doing things that they like doing, especially if they can be done at a good distance from everyone else?

Denis Rutovitz, Edinburgh EH9.

Read more: Why on earth was this Government so unprepared?