THE most disappointing part of Helen McArdle's recent article ("Watchdog says ‘transparency’ needed on waiting time delays", The Herald, February 17) is the last paragraph indicating external consultants have been drafted by the NHS to address the waiting time issue.

My experience in the NHS of such consultants is that they take what ideas they are offered by staff and regurgitate them as their own, no doubt at great expense. How can they be expected to understand the complex machinery of the NHS if management and politicians do not, which is clearly the case? Change rarely happens thereafter through political inertia and fear of voter rebellion.

Prior to Covid the NHS in Scotland was not fit for purpose, illustrated by the 300,000 patients failing Nicola Sturgeon’s populist legal right to a 12-week maximum wait for treatment, the chronic breach of waiting times in A&E, and the failure to function of expensive new hospitals. Add to that now the hundred of thousands of postponed elective operation because of the Covid shutdown and one must consider that the NHS as we have known it, treatment at the point of need, no longer exists. Years waiting for hips and knee replacement, allegedly two to six years in some hospitals, is not a service. The private sector is too small to compensate, notwithstanding that the medics working there are NHS staff working in their own free time.

The NHS staff are wonderful at crisis management but the service they are employed in is broken.

It really is just a matter of mathematics. The annual elective capacity of the NHS to provide waits of no longer than 12 weeks can be considered X. The annual demand, long before Covid, has been X + Y. The annual increase therefore in waiting list must be Y compounded each year, which has not been countered by compounding X + Y in the allocation of resources, which in reality would mean that eventually the whole of the Scottish GDP would be spent on the NHS if the present model is continued. This is the elephant in the room, which all politicians will not address, and which the population must be aware of and consider. The present model of the NHS funding, in reality rationing, if maintained means that some patients will never get the treatment they require, many will die prematurely or suffer long-term reversible disability.

After 14 years the present Scottish Government clearly has no realistic ideas or plans to change matters and is culpable of dereliction of duty, and a lack of honesty. Unless blinded by constitutional arguments Scots must demand change for themselves and future patients.

Gavin R Tait FRCSEd, East Kilbride.


IT was by “happy” chance that an A4-size envelope full of Tory bumf came through the door as I was reading Tom Gordon's analysis of party descriptions ("In a recovery election, will the SNP look stuck in a rut?", The Herald, February 18). A read through the circular (ignoring the rest), and a quick count, reveals 13 mentions of “referendum can be stopped”, and only three mentions of “focus on recovery”, and so is little different from previous elections where the main thrust of the Tories was to prevent Scots having a direct say in their own future.

One interesting theme in the circular is that the Tories are not trying to win this election, but are imploring voters to “prevent an SNP majority”(referenced nine times) by which means a “referendum can be stopped”. This implicitly suggests an SNP majority would be a mandate for a referendum, a position agreed, explicitly, by both Ruth Davidson and Alister Jack on previous occasions.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


* IAIN McNair (Letters, February 18) indicates that he thinks it is wrong for Nicola Sturgeon to hold an election on May 6 while some form of lockdown is still in place. The election date is fixed by law and the First Minister does not have the power to change it. The Presiding Officer can delay the election by up to six months following consultation with the relevant parties.

There are a large number of elections taking place across the UK on May 6 including the Welsh Senedd, more than 150 English local authorities and a number of mayors, including the London Mayor. As far as I’m aware there are no plans currently to postpone any of these. London in particular has a significantly larger population than that of Scotland and is the most densely populated city in the UK, yet they seem to be able to deal with the challenges imposed by a lockdown.

If the Scottish Election is the only one to be postponed there will be an outcry accusing the First Minister of acting like a dictator and suspending a democratic vote.

Jim MacRitchie, Paisley.

* THERE have been a number of letters in The Herald over the past few weeks from correspondents saying that they feel it is unsafe to hold the Scottish Parliamentary election in May due to Covid. I would imagine that polling stations will be required to strictly observe Covid guidance and safety procedures and that visiting a polling station should pose no greater risk than going to a mass vaccination centre.

To anyone who is not confident of being safe at a polling station I would suggest that they register for a postal vote. The process is simple, requests for application forms can be made online or over the phone and there is still plenty of time left to apply.

I have only ever used a postal vote once before because I was going to be away from home at the time of the election. I have always strongly believed in turning up at the polling station to vote in person but when circumstances change we have to adapt to these changes. No one need fear going to the polling station as no one needs to be there.

David Clark, Tarbolton.


DAVID Bol's article ("SNP urged to devolve powers to cities to help hit climate targets", The Herald, February 17) would seem to imply that the researchers have no faith in the pledge by the SNP to devolve political powers and financial controls on health education, planning and social welfare to every local authority in Scotland as detailed in the Andy Wightman bill. Why should these powers be restricted to only seven cities in Scotland when there is not a single city south of the M8?

Once more we have those in the Central Belt refusing to extend the democratic rights enjoyed by rural England to those living in the South of Scotland.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas.


I READ that Germany has implemented tighter border controls in the frontiers with the Czech Republic and Austria`s Tyrol provinces, in an effort to stem the flow of Covid variants. The restrictions limit entry from these areas to German citizens and residents, lorry drivers, transport, and health service staff. Meanwhile, Scotland cannot tighten border controls with England to stem the flow of Covid variants, and protect its citizens. Moral of the story – Germany is an independent nation; Scotland is not.

William C McLaughlin, Biggar.


THE meteorologist Lorenz asked: Could the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?

Today (February 17) there are no tornadoes but blizzards and temperatures well below zero in Texas, with frozen windmills, massive power cuts and economic chaos resulting. Apparently no countries are immune from such dramatic fluctuations in climate.

Should future planning for climate change now be reconsidered, especially any dependence on wind and renewable electricity generation?

Of particular concern is that electricity is hugely inefficient for powering the industrial boilers fundamental to modern life. Industrial boilers have many uses, from hospitals to food processing factories.Using electricity instead of gas would require massive increases in boiler size and containment, with higher monetary and environmental costs.

Until there are new discoveries in power generation technology, perhaps climate change policies realistically should not be totally concentrated on renewable energy and, alongside carbon capture and storage technologies, allow the use of natural gas?

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh.


NO doubt Tesco plc will get lawyers to overturn the judge’s ruling on its latest wizard wheeze of Sack and Rehire ("Court ruling halts ‘reprehensible’ Tesco fire and re-hire scheme", The Herald, February 15). But no amount of legal expense will ever persuade me and hopefully many others to shop at its stores again. If its top line were to be affected enough, Tesco might just find some senior managers with a conscience or moral compass. Tesco – other stores are available. Jack Cohen must be burling in his grave.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

Read more: Why is it the only safe thing to do this spring is hold an election?