YOUR “National Debate” features on the NHS last week and the various political parties’ views on how to improve matters simply reinforce the vacuous nature of Scottish politics; the same old tired faces trolling out the same old piffle, the same old blame culture and a dearth of positive solutions of how to bring about the changes we all know are required. Not one of the “it’s all the SNP’s fault” protagonists provides viable alternatives or the source of funds to implement change.

The NHS is in crisis, but it all boils down to funding and staff levels; it’s so simple I had hoped even politicians would be able to understand it.

The NHS is the biggest employer in the UK and more than 50 per cent of its funding goes to pay staff wages and so support local economies; it makes sense to increase staffing levels rather than reduce them, yet chronic understaffing is the bane of the NHS.

Today’s waiting times are a disgrace but the fact that there have always historically been waiting lists in the NHS yet not in the private sector tells you all you need to know. The NHS has always been underfunded and has never been able to meet demand. That is a simple fact, as is that the lion’s share of the treatments carried out in the private sector are actually carried out by staff who have part-time contracts in the NHS and received their training and accreditation working in the NHS. That is a situation that is easily resolved.

True, many NHS posts are vacant but that is because there simply is not the staff available to fill them because we don’t train enough doctors, nurses, dentists and other healthcare staff to satisfy demand and never have done so; why? Currently many staff jump ship from the NHS as soon as it is financially feasible for them to do so because at present it is not a comfortable environment to work in simply because the service is under-resourced. The “more bang for less bucks” culture is destroying staff morale.

The NHS should be an environment where there are more than enough staff to meet clinical demand to allow leeway for continuing education, study leave, maternity and holiday leave, personal sickness and unexpected family commitments but it isn’t; it has always relied on the goodwill of its staff to go the extra mile to keep the wheels turning, but “burnout” is killing that off.

Until all Scottish political parties stop using NHS as a political football to further their own career aspirations and tell the public the truth that the NHS is underfunded and understaffed it’s just a matter of time till Westminster gets its way and the NHS disappears.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


DR Des Spence ("Mental health is at crisis point… hope lies in rebuilding our sense of society", The Herald, April 30) flags up the nation's lifestyle choices which are ultimately affecting the mental health of this generation.

Having a purpose in life, a meaningful job, even if it is not particularly well paid, is a reason to get up in the morning. To feel valued and needed is important.

As far as leisure time is concerned, taking part in sports like bowling, golf or tennis and becoming a member of a club widens social opportunities. Sadly many of these organisations are going to vanish through time if they are not used.

We are increasingly becoming insular in our behaviours, with online shopping, social media, even home exercise devised online all adding to the decline of mental health in our country.

Looking long and hard at ourselves would be a first step in the right direction.

Sheila Kerr, Newton Mearns.


MASKS have become a social thing now – a piece of cloth anywhere about the face or even under the chin, soaked in condensed breath, sweat, saliva, and worse. Frequently handled, rarely washed, and often left on the table in a restaurant, as I actually saw when I recently ate out. Disgusting. A better way of spreading disease – not just Covid – would be hard to imagine.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.


IN Saturday’s editorial ("The importance of a strong turnout on May 5; and the census shambles", The Herald, April 30) you wonder if the fact that the census was chiefly conducted online counted against it.

Here in Rothesay, the bus company has discontinued production of printed timetables in favour of providing information online. This means that most of those who wish to use buses are kept in the dark about the frequent changes, whereas those who wouldn’t dream of using buses are copiously informed. This exemplifies the modern way of doing things, and anyone presuming to criticise betrays a lack of appreciation of 21st century efficiency.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.


IF Priscilla Douglas in Killearn (Letters, May 2) wants to hear a really early cuckoo, she ought to move north to bonnie Deeside. My wife heard our first cuckoo here on April 26.

As for hearing cuckoos in Killearn on May 1, we were too busy washing our faces in May morning dew to listen for avian calls of any sort.

Gordon Casely, Crathes.


I FOUND the article on the wide benefits of music by the renowned composer Sir James MacMillan ("The surprising ways in which music can help us", The Herald, May 2) thoughtful and inspirational.

With piano lessons in the 1940s I was fortunate that the young lady music teacher used pop tunes from the wireless to maintain my interest in addition to boring scales.

Later as a student sometimes looking for some light relief I would lift the lid and remove the front casing on the old upright and hammer away.

Nowadays, to the benefit of anyone in the near vicinity, I have progressed to more refined exposition on a keyboard and headphones, having once received from a relative a card bearing the message “Hell is full of musical amateurs” (George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950).

Music can indeed be magic. I have found on occasion I can even make people disappear.

R Russell Smith, Largs.