AT every election that Nicola Sturgeon has participated in her message has been "Vote SNP to prevent the NHS being privatised by the Tories (or anyone else who is not SNP)". And yet today the First Minister, abetted by her serially useless Health Secretary, has effectively privatised NHS Scotland's dentistry by stealth.

At best you might get a check-up or a wee clean but any other treatment will require you to dive deep into your pockets. On a recent visit to my previously-NHS dentist I found that a somewhat complicated filling would cost me £300-plus. I asked the dentist when NHS dentistry would be fully restored and her sharp blunt answer was "never".

Dentists have written in your pages detailing this sad situation but here it was in reality. A major part of our heath service has been de facto privatised, not by common knowledge but by stealth. Our First Minister should come clean over this dreadful situation but I seriously doubt it.

As time goes by when Ms Sturgeon waves to her adoring fans with her gleaming smile I think she will be faced by an increasingly toothless, gurning audience, not just because of a lack of another independence referendum but due to lack of a dentistry service.

Scotland's NHS safe with the SNP? The evidence says otherwise.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.


THE pandemic is on the wane yet Scottish A&E waiting times have recorded their worst figures ever. More than one in four patients are waiting more than four hours to be seen ("A&E waiting time performance falls to another record low as winter looms", The Herald, October 13). This is because the underlying NHS problems have not been fixed by successive SNP health ministers and the reason is obvious. None of them fully understood not only the problems but that SNP policies are simply making things worse.

Staffing levels are inadequate but high taxation by the SNP means the higher-grade posts remain unfilled. The SNP used to counter this by claiming the quality of life was generally better in Scotland but this is patently not the case. Scotland's NHS is not well in SNP hands and the new Green input will inevitably steer it onto the critical list.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


IT is now very clear that the report issued by cross-party committees at Westminster on the UK Government’s initial handling of the Covid crisis ("Different messaging on Covid-19 left public ‘confused’", The Herald, October 13) completely busts the well-spun myth that Nicola Sturgeon was far superior and supposedly different in her handling of this crisis. Additionally, the committee’s report (with two SNP MP members, remember) did not have to consider the implications of not telling the Scottish public of the Nike conference outbreak.

If Ms Sturgeon wants us to believe that she is all about transparency, accountability and responsibility, then she must immediately establish a Scottish Parliamentary inquiry to establish the truth. Any further spin or obfuscation on this matter would be an insult to us all.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.


AS the Scottish Government is in the process of preparing a judge-led inquiry into the handling of Covid, calls for a parliamentary inquiry would be a waste of time and effort given the tribal nature of politics at Holyrood. To date, the Welsh Labour Government has refused to commit to holding an inquiry into its handling of the pandemic.

Any inquiry should examine Scotland’s lack of border controls and borrowing powers to enforce an earlier lockdown and the fact that it was only when Scotland diverged from the UK approach that we got on top of the virus with the resultant better figures than elsewhere. It should also examine the preparedness of private care homes to accept and isolate hospital discharges.

Opposition politicians at Holyrood have memory problems, as in early March 2020 they were demanding that Nicola Sturgeon free up hospital beds to cope with the expected tsunami of patients and at that time Ms Sturgeon was criticised for pushing for lockdown while Boris Johnson was shaking hands with Covid patients and saying it was business as usual.

In stark contrast to England’s expensive PPE procurement scandal, Audit Scotland found that the Scottish Government acted fairly and appropriately when awarding contracts.

The latest A&E figures in Scotland may look bad but they are still far superior to those in England or Wales.

Covid mistakes were made, but we should be grateful for our much-better-performing NHS Scotland.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.


I LIKE Adam Tomkins with his constitutional hat on, rather than his political one ("The changing landscape of constitutional law has left us with an elephant in the room, The Herald, October 13). The issue of constitutional sovereignty in a multi-national state lying with a parliament overwhelmingly dominated by one of those nations, is surely one fraught with problems. Mr Tomkins references that Westminster’s sovereign hand reaches out, not just to Scotland, but to Wales and Northern Ireland as well, yet Northern Ireland has had its “right to self-determination” recognised within the constitutional architecture of the UK, through the Downing Street Declaration and the Good Friday Agreement. We all know why that is.

What of the concept of “popular sovereignty”: government based on the consent of the people, which Scots believed in? The Conservative Party has fought numerous elections in Scotland now, on one single issue, and has lost badly on every occasion, yet insists on its hegemony over Scotland. When democracy is made irrelevant, and the courts are skewed to a 17th century English constitutional conceit, where is the legal and constitutional road to Scottish self-governance? If there is no “out door” what comes next?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


ALLOW me to correct Alasdair Galloway (Letters, October 13), who accuses me of being “disingenuous in the extreme" in his mistaken belief that I “champion" the question “Should Scotland remain in the UK? Yes or No". I was not attempting to champion anything. All I was doing was making the very simple point that such wording was not at all difficult to understand, contrary to Robert Frazer's assertion (Letters, October 11) that many people would be confused by it.

That I object to any referendum question involving a “Yes or No" answer should be obvious to any regular correspondent such as Mr Galloway from my occasional letters in The Herald on that very subject. As I have said each time, any such question is inherently biased in favour of “Yes". That is the stated view of the Electoral Commission, and I am glad to see that Mr Galloway, in his reference to that commission, appears to share that view.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


BILL Brown (Letters, October 12) attributes support for Scottish independence to "the fickle and impetuous inexperience of youth". As a regular pro-independence contributor to these pages, born during the Second World War, perhaps Mr Brown will enlighten me as to how many more years I must wait for the dawn of maturity.

The rising support for Ukip south of the Border a number of years ago was reminiscent of events in 1930s Germany and concentrated my mind on the need for our Scottish nation to free itself from the xenophobic tide that was engulfing our neighbours. The impetuous younger generation of Scots is unlikely to have shared my concerns and will not be aware that today's UK Conservative and Labour parties are now dressed in many of Ukip's clothes.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


HOW well Dave Stewart (Letters, October 11) articulated my own view of the regret many must be feeling about the consequences of Brexit. If ever nose was cut off to spite face, the folly of the blinkered pursuit of such an isolationist policy in a global age beggars belief.

Alas, apologies do not come easy in the current political climate, so we seem lumbered with this ideological nightmare. I suspect Mr Stewart will wait a long time for any sort of apology from Leave voters.

As a long-established small business owner, increased costs and hassle are an inevitable consequence; as a grandmother, the diminished options for my grandchildren to travel and study abroad are damaging and shameful.

Most of all, the inconsistency of divorcing from our neighbours in Europe, while insisting Scotland is better off shackled to an increasingly inward-looking UK Government, surely raises serious questions for all our futures.

Anne Shackleton, Kirkcudbright.


WILLIAM Shatner’s trip into space (Letters, October 13) I guess will be cited as another example of life imitating art. Much as Neil Munro’s incompetent Para Handy walks the corridors of Holyrood every day in her heels, chest puffed out with her own self-importance, with machinery that might work, if only they had a competent engineer, and, like the good captain of fiction, deluded that hers is “the smertest boat in the coasting tred”.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

Read more: This was a UK Government failure, not a Scottish one