WHY does the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) make life so difficult for medical students ("Furious medical students blast 'shambolic' delivery of key test", The Herald, November 14)? The Situational Judgment Test (SJT) does not assess clinical knowledge or skill, but ethical awareness, and more intangible aspects of being a doctor – the medical schools used to call them "attitudes" – such as empathy and kindness. A typical question might pose a scenario and then ask you to give five possible responses an order of merit, from best to worst. I've made up an example:

The UKFPO asks you to devise an exam testing medical students' capacity for human kindness.

A You ask a Glasgow medical student to sit the test in Harrowgate.

B You ignore the current travel restrictions due to coronavirus.

C You offer insufficient booking slots for the test.

D You don't tell the students when they can apply for a slot.

E You tell the students they can't enter a training programme if they fail the test, and they can't appeal.

It's positively Kafkaesque. But it's not just a question of a few administrative glitches in the system. The whole idea of reducing the complexities of human interaction to a series of tick boxes, of turning a smile, a sympathetic glance, or a kind word, into a formula, is grotesque. The Situational Judgment Test should be abolished.

Dr Hamish Maclaren, Stirling.


MY local authority is planning to charge me for parking my car outside my home. I already pay well over £3000 annually in council tax and my car tax is currently more than £500 per year. I think I've already paid to park outside my home.

Worse, we live close to a higher-education college and two schools. Ever weekday hundreds of youngsters, mature students, teachers, lecturers and support staff park in the streets around my home in an effort to improve our nation's education. They now appear to face another money-making hurdle created by the authorities.

Objections to the proposals should be sent to the Head of Legal and Democratic Solutions at North Lanarkshire Council. This, apparently, is a real job.

I shall object, of course. Hopefully I'll see a "Democratic Solution". But I doubt it.

Steve Brennan, Coatbridge.


IT'S very obvious that The Herald readership has experts in nearly every subject under the sun and I badly need their expertise.

For many years I've been taking an early morning walk, never more so than during the current crisis. During these walks I've solved a lot problems, at least in my own mind. but one problem remains disturbingly unresolved.

Just what goes through a dog walker's mind when they a) don't clean up their dog's poo or b) bag up the poo but then abandon the poo bags on bush, fences, and the side of paths like some ugly public? I exclude younger dog walkers from this because they are too busy on their phones to notice their dogs pooing. They must assume, like I used to about the Queen, that their pooches do not defecate.

I would imagine that these dog walkers have given up their belief in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy but bizarrely they still believe that the Poobag Fairy exists and will do the necessary disposal.

So, Herald readers, please help out. Why do dog walkers think it's ok to abandon their dogs’ mess ?

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.