THERE were, at least for me, three aspects of the statement made with regard to the movement of patients from hospitals to care homes of particular interest ("Care home moves were ‘mistake’, says Freeman", The Herald, April 9). First, the identity of the person who made it – Jeane Freeman is standing down as an MSP and will, as a result, not be in parliament after the May elections to face the resultant criticism. Having said that, I am sure that she would not have made the statement without the sanction of Nicola Sturgeon.

Second, the timing of the statement – clearly the SNP Government must have taken the decision to get the statement out before election day. If this kind of admission is to be made, then let us do it now, show some contrition, and get it out of the way.

Third, where the statement was made – it was made to a BBC podcast. Clearly a statement of such significance could and should have been made to the Scottish Parliament before it rose in advance of election campaigning. It should have been given in circumstances where the Health Secretary would have been subjected to proper parliamentary scrutiny.

It comes as no surprise to me that the SNP Government chose to behave in this way in relation to such an important issue. It does it no credit, particularly with the background of its actions with regard to care homes during the pandemic having had such a profound effect on so many families.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


A YEAR after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and with an election looming, it's obviously good timing for the retiring Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, to finally admit that the Scottish Government made serious mistakes in allowing elderly Covid patients to be transferred from hospitals to care homes, thereby contributing to a devastating spread of the disease.

Since the deaths of their loved ones in care homes, friends and relatives have clamoured for answers with little information forthcoming from the Government and now Ms Freeman has fallen on her sword as she goes out the door. Relatives have been kept in limbo for a year, increasing their anxiety and helplessness, so why wasn't an apology given before and not at election time? Such an important policy must have been at least rubber-stamped by Nicola Sturgeon, so why isn't she also apologising for the unnecessary loss of life and debilitating illness inflicted upon elderly and vulnerable care home residents?

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


I AGREE with Gavin R Tait’s diagnosis of what ails our NHS (Letters, April 9) but disagree on the aetiology. The current Scottish Government may not be blameless in the affair, but its roots are historic. Waiting lists in the NHS may be increasing but they were always there, they are a deliberate construct and a function of chronic under-funding. With adequate staff and facilities waiting lists would not exist. There are no waiting lists in the private sector.

Adequate levels of staffing have always been a problem in the NHS but again this is principally related to under-funding; this is not a problem in the private sector, which obtains most of its staff from the NHS system and has neither trained nor provided them with the environment in which to gain clinical experience. Perhaps if staff on NHS contracts didn’t work part-time in the private sector and the private sector trained its own staff that would be a step in the right direction. The fact that Prince Philip was recently transferred from the private sector to the NHS when complicated treatment was required highlights the reality of the parallel systems.

As usual it’s all to do with money and priorities. I read recently that the Trident nuclear project will cost £209 billion but supports 30,000 jobs. My calculations suggest those workers could be made millionaires overnight and that would still leave £179bn that could perhaps be spent on the NHS. I wonder whose pockets the £179bn will actually end up in. I bet they don’t use the NHS.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


GAVIN R Tait fears for the future of the NHS under the SNP and proceeds to list a tale of woe of the shortcomings and sees Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to increase elective output not as a benefit but as an election bribe, but does not mention Boris Johnson’s pre-Brexit bribe of £350 million per week for the NHS for leaving the EU. Bribe or otherwise, surely any more legitimate cash for the NHS cannot be a bad thing?

If the polls are correct, it does look as if the SNP will be the popular choice of the people once again and Mr Tait will simply have to get used to democracy in action. Clearly a man with undoubted experience and knowledge of the NHS and given his deep concern, may I suggest he puts political considerations to one side and contacts Ms Sturgeon to offer suggestions on how things could be improved from the available resources? At the same time, it would be interesting to learn from Mr Tait how NHS Scotland compares to the other three nations of the UK, as listening to the BBC national news on NHS England, it does appear all is not well.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.


I WAS angry and upset to hear, on the radio, an SNP representative inferring that the mental health issues for young people in Scotland are more about child poverty than Government policies and that doubling the child poverty payment to £20 will go towards addressing the problem. Sadly, my family have been directly involved with the NHS with regard to mental health issues for 14 years and I can assure everyone that this is definitely not the main problem.

Mental health in young people and adults is no respecter of wealth or social position. In all my dealings with the NHS mental health teams, I cannot say that I have ever met anyone who was not diligent, caring and professional. What I can testify to is that there is a chronic shortage of professionals in this field and the resources allocated are woefully short of anything like appropriate.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde had a pathetic four beds for adult eating disorder patients and this poorly-resourced facility has been closed a number of times due to not having a consultant. Access to therapists, dieticians and occupational therapists, so necessary for eating disorder patients, is sporadic due to large caseloads or often due to them being on temporary appointments then moving on after a short period when obtaining a permanent post elsewhere.

This leads to a gap time for recruitment which can be months. Anyone who deals with eating disorders knows that stable patient relationships with these specialist support services is crucial in managing the illness. We have had an SNP government for all of this time and it is insulting of it to try to divert its appalling track record in this field by inference that austerity by others is to blame. It has all been on its watch so it should face up to its failings. If there had been significant votes to be gained then you can bet things would be different. Sadly not.

Name and address supplied.


I WAS intrigued by your letters on Thursday (April 8) relative to the merits and indeed the demerits of Scottish education prior to the introduction of the much more egalitarian comprehensive system, introduced in 1970. Having been a Second World War baby, I was subject to the gross unfairness of the 11-plus system, which was gamed by the middle classes and mitigated against working-class children. I failed the 11-plus at Eglinton Winton Public School in Ardrossan. I was in a class of 44 and just missed the cut with 12 children above me, eight of whom were girls. Although I was then the ''top boy'' I always had the sense of only being the best of a bad bunch. I left school at 15 with only a colourful Dux Boy certificate and a present of a book.

I served an apprenticeship as a marine engineer at the local shipyard, Ardrossan Dockyard Limited. I then studied at night school at Ardrossan Academy for ONC/HNC qualifications. In my first year I passed out third in a class of 88 boys, many of whom had passed their 11-plus with two first-class passes and one second class. In a blinding flash I realised I was not stupid. My late brother Robert, who also failed the 11-plus, was second out of the same class of 88 boys. Over the next eight years I studied at night school three nights a week and many other nights on homework. I also developed a deep interest in history when I was 17. I am currently studying the life of Otto Von Bismarck, the former ''Iron Chancellor '' of Germany and the premier European politician of the 19th century.

However, turning back to my happy years at Eglinton Winton Public School – in the real sense of the word public, not the Etonian version – I fondly remember many of my wonderful teachers. One distinct advantage of the Scottish educational system was that all of my Junior Secondary teachers had university degrees. So apart from trading technical drawing and woodwork for Latin and French, we received the same skill, care and attention for all of our other subjects. In this respect Scotland may have been exceptional.

I started my own engineering company when I was 26 with £10 capital in April 1966. We flourished and at our peak we employed 400 personnel – all on good salaries, no gig economy in my company. I was made an MBE for services to the engineering industry.

In my 82 years on this Earth I have met many people who passed the 11-plus and indeed many who had the ''privilege'' of a private education. I have never met one that I felt inferior to, quite the reverse.

WR McCrindle MBE, Chairman, McCrindle Group, West Kilbride.


THE other day I was commenting that in my opinion in our area the chips are nearly always undercooked, pale and not dark enough. My eight-year-old granddaughter piped up in all seriousness that I was being racist.

Perhaps this is another indication that the race issue is out of control.

James Rait, Leven.


MAY I second R Russell Smith's suggestion of placing miscreants in the stocks and pelting them with their discarded litter (Letters April 90, and add people who allow their dogs to foul pavements to the list, using their dog's droppings of course?

John Jamieson, Ayr.

* R RUSSELL Smith’s suggestion of bringing back the stocks for litter louts raised a smile and certainly has merit. The idea could possibly even be extended to fly-tippers, although I suppose pelting the guilty with fridges, sofas and mattresses might be more difficult.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.

Read more: I truly fear for the future of the NHS under the SNP