POLITICALLY motivated opposition attacks on Humza Yousaf (Letters, September 17) are unwarranted and unjustified, not least as ambulance services and health boards throughout the UK have also advised people to think twice before calling for an ambulance unless the situation is life-threatening.

The Scottish Ambulance Service changed the way it responds in 2016 with 999 call handlers giving the highest priority to incidents such as cardiac arrests. An evaluation of the changes found the new system has saved the equivalent of 1,182 lives, but call handlers are taking longer on the phone to dispatch paramedics and some lower-priority calls are waiting longer for an ambulance. Also, prior to the SNP coming into power having a paramedic on board was an exception rather than a rule.

Despite having a greater rural distance to cover, the Scottish Ambulance Service is performing at a much higher level than in England and the situation is even worse in Wales where the BBC reported on August 11 that ambulances can’t take 999 calls.

There is also increased pressure on the NHS through the lack of staffing in care homes due to Brexit which has resulted in many delayed discharges and bed blocking.

As for snide remarks about having to call in the British Army, we should remember that the latest GERS figures show Scottish taxpayers are charged over the odds for UK defence expenditure in Scotland.

The pressure on NHS Scotland is enormous due to the recent explosion of Covid cases due to opening up the economy. We all need to take more personal responsibility for our actions if we want life to get back to normal and that includes wearing masks, plus agreeing to vaccine passports.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.

* WHEN did Nicola Sturgeon become personally responsible for running the ambulance service? Who and where is the ambulance service chief in all of this furore? Who and where are the health board chiefs who aren’t providing some interim patient-receiving facilities so that ambulances can go and attend to patients, instead of being used as static waiting rooms outside hospitals?

It’s high time that some fat-cat backsides were being kicked, or kicked out, so that obvious improvements to the current debacle are put in place.

William Young, Largs.


IS it possible that the present dial-111 facility is contributing inadvertently to the ambulance delays ?

I had occasion to call 111 one evening recently and was impressed by the expertise, efficiency and reassurance I received ultimately from the respondents. The only problem was that after dialling 111 I had to hold on for a full 60 minutes before my call was answered, during that time hearing repeated recorded messages that all of their respondents were busy dealing with other calls and encouraging me to hold on to avoid losing my place in the waiting queue.

It seems from this level of delay that there is an unexpectedly high demand for this service or some degree of understaffing, or possibly both, and I wonder how many worried callers will simply give up and call 999 instead? Can or should this 111 service be beefed up to reduce call waiting times, which apart from anything else might also have the benefit of reducing 999 calls ?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


FORTY hours – not one whole day, not a day and a half but a full 40 hours.

Try to imagine lying on a floor helpless for 40 hours hoping that an ambulance is on its way.

Try to imagine being the family member watching your loved one lying there in pain, in discomfort and asking for help.

I cannot imagine what this would be like and no one should have to.

Yet this is what happened to one family in Scotland ("Pensioner dies after waiting 40 hours for ambulance", The Herald, September 16) and one has to ask why. Why is our ambulance service unable to cope? Why have they not had enough money to recruit new paramedics? Could it be that the money has been used elsewhere?

The SNP loves to announce its “freebies” – free travel for Under-22s next year, free baby boxes, free breakfast and lunches for all primary school pupils. While those who are in need of support should receive it, universal freebies are a waste of resources as they are also given to those who could pay themselves.

Politics is about making choices and the SNP Government would prefer to offer vote-winning enticements rather than provide the services that will keep our citizens alive. I hope that Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf are asking themselves what they could have done differently and if not, they should be.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


ONE of the benefits of being in the UK is that we can call on the British armed forces in the event of a civil emergency ("Sturgeon calls in army to cut ambulance wait times", The Herald, September 17). Given the SNP’s non-existent plan for Scotland’s independent defence, its ludicrous social spending and a gargantuan deficit, we’d be lucky to have enough armed forces personnel to fit in the back of an ambulance, let alone drive a fleet of them.

David Bone, Girvan.


IT is quite staggering that today there is much outrage among nationalists and Ferguson Marine's own trade union representatives that their SNP-run shipyard is not being freely handed another build contract for Scotland's much-needed ferries. I suspect CMAL this time round wishes to take delivery of these new ferries when they are due, and that its tendering process quite rightly favours yards which have a recent history of delivering a number of ships to specification, on time and on budget – instead of those who are running four years late and with £100 million additional costs on their only two hulls.

In addition, there can be few countries where the Health Secretary's solution to his Government's lack of investment in healthcare and lack of resource funding is to tell people to "think twice" before calling an ambulance.

The clear message to Scots should be seriously to think twice before ever again voting SNP.

Robin McNaught, Bridge of Weir.


ACCORDING to Jill Stephenson (Letters, September 16) the UK pours money into Scotland and "the blunt truth is that the UK would save money if Scotland left it". We probably have a better class of food banks too, as part of the Union dividend. So, what is Boris Johnson waiting for? He should call a referendum forthwith and let Scotland rejoin the EU and give him back his Trident weapons of mass destruction.

Alas, if only we'd had an Oil Fund, we could have reciprocated the generosity shown us by kindly Westminster governments and poured 50 years of our oil revenues into their Treasury. Instead, we should get down on our knees and thank Westminster for dropping their money into our begging bowls, and apologise for being alive.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


THE UK Government is providing three free Covid vaccines for every adult in a the UK. In addition, it has funded billions extra for the NHS and paid out billions in furlough funding. Covid tests remain free in the UK where other countries like Germany are starting to charge.

To pay for all of this the average person in full-time work is being asked to pay £5 extra a week in National Insurance, the equivalent of one pint of beer a week, or 10 cigarettes. Sadly the public think this is too much, and would rather just clap on a Thursday night.

David Watson, Leith.


I AM delighted to note that the UK Government has said it wants the return of pounds, ounces, inches, feet and yards and the rest of the Imperial Measurement System (IMS).

My interest in Neolithic maths and metrics led me to discover that our ancient Brit forebears created that system some 5,000 years ago when farming, trading and building began and some agreed standard was required to avoid arguments and confusion. Initially this standard was based upon a male adult’s flattened thumb as that was the one thing they all had in common. This standard measurement is 23mm (the same as our £1 coin). I have dubbed that the "neolithic inch"; 12 of which is your mean foot length and 36 is your mean stride. In addition and to this day a container 4x4x3 neolithic inches measures both a pint of milk or a pound of barley corn. From this the ancients developed acres, miles and tons.

The IMS is based upon real metrics that are found in nature as opposed to the metric system which is based upon nothing so tangible.

Modern calculators have now abolished the chores of long division and multiplication that once slowed things down and while welcoming decimal coinage we can happily drop the rest of the metric system: we didn’t need it to build ships, bridges, dams, aeroplanes or factories when we were "the workshop of the world".

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian.


I WONDER if any Herald readers who live in an urban area have a worst postal service than we have in Erskine? Since September 2 we have have only received mail on two occasions (two deliveries out of a possible 14 days of postal services). At present we are waiting for a range of important mail which should have arrived days ago.

The fear is that mail could easily go missing or be so delayed that vaccination and hospital appointments could be missed. I have complained to the local manager to no avail, as the service is still appalling as of Friday, September 17.

Frank Cooney, Erskine.


WATCHING yet another commentary on knife crime and violence and the cry for a solution, perhaps the answer is to ask Prince William to come up with a scheme? The royal family has already produced the two best schemes acceptable to youngsters in The Duke of Edinburgh Award and The Prince's Trust.

James Watson, Dunbar.


NOW that the First Minister is requesting help for the Ambulance Service from the Army, could we have the Royal Navy drafted in to assist Calmac with lifeline services to the islands?

Moira Love, Cumbernauld.

Read more: What on earth have we done to deserve Humza Yousaf?