YOUR recent front page headlines ("Thousands left waiting in A & E for over 12 hours amid beds shortage", The Herald, June 8) and "Cancer patients facing longer waits for life-saving diagnoses", The Herald, June 9) have made for disturbing reading.

No doubt at considerable expense, the First Minister has many working on a new version of Scotland’s Future, a guide to an independent Scotland, which was produced in advance of the 2014 independence referendum. It is interesting to reflect upon some of the claims and statements made in that document in relation to how the situation in respect of the NHS is shaping up today. Under the heading "Health, social care and the NHS" it is stated: "Major achievements of the health and care service in Scotland under devolution include:

* reduced waiting times and delayed discharge from hospital and

* a single vision for sustainable quality across health and social care services."

Turning to today, we are now some distance from these claimed achievements of eight years or so ago. Let us consider some examples. During the first four months of this year we have had more than 12,600 people requiring admission who have spent 12 or more hours on trolleys and chairs in A&E and cancer patients facing long waits for scans and diagnoses. Moreover, we read that the number of elective procedures scheduled in NHS Scotland for April this year was a third down on pre-pandemic levels. We are also advised that in the last year the number of full-time nursing and midwifery vacancies had risen by almost 40% .

It cannot be denied that the pandemic has seriously affected the efficient and timely provision of services by the NHS. However, the situation we are in today cannot reasonably be attributed entirely to the pandemic. Since the NHS began its activities on July 5, 1948, it has been held in high regard by the people of Britain and deservedly so. In the light of the current substantial concerns about its activities, some of which I have mentioned in this letter, are we in danger of going back to the pre-July 1948 days of health being determined by wealth?

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


IT is becoming increasingly difficult for me to decide what political party I should support.

When Tony Blair took us into an Iraq war, I swore that if there were no weapons of mass destruction, I would not vote for him again. Personally I thought Gordon Brown to be at least a reasonably decent man if a little dull, but since then I have found no inspiration from various Labour leaders.

When Theresa May was ousted I wrote to Ruth Davidson stating that if Boris Johnson, a proven liar and philanderer before his current contemptuous behaviour, became leader then they would never get my vote while he was in office. And although Jo Swinson was at one time my constituency MP, I found her suggestion that she would be PM laughable, particularly how she and her party have often sold their principles to secure government posts.

You might think this would lead me to the SNP, whose representatives are revelling in the PM's latest shameful antics, but sadly Nicola Sturgeon, whom the Parliamentary Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints found had misled the committee, did not consider resignation. The poor woman seems to suffer from amnesia as well as leading a Government famous for lack of transparency and publicising meaningless redacted documents. There is a huge whiff of hypocrisy from that direction.

Perhaps the Monster Raving Loony Party might be a possibility for me until such times as integrity returns to our politics.

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.


ACCORDING to William Loneskie (Letters, June 8) the farce that is currently taking place in Westminster is “democracy in action”. May I remind him that in the last General Election only 67 per cent of the electorate felt there was any point in voting at all and of those who got off their backsides to do so only 42% of them voted for the Conservative Party clone. I thought democracy should work in the interests of the majority; I'm apparently wrong.

We now have a situation in the old boys club at Westminster where the Prime Minister is deemed unsuited to the job by the majority of UK citizens, by two-thirds of the elected representatives of all parties at Westminster, where all evidence points to him being a serial liar, including being economical with the truth to the reigning monarch, yet he is kept in power by 211 Tory MPs for a mixture of reasons including self-interest and the lack of charismatic successors within the current ranks of android MPs and obviously incompetent ministers. No consideration is given by them to the best interests or the wishes of the general public.

If that is democracy in action, we need to contact the OED and change the definition.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


OECD forecast that the UK economy will tie with Russia for last place ("UK economy forecast to stagnate and be worst-performing in G7", The Herald, June 9) shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying attention. The reasons for this dismal performance are several, but let’s start with the biggest and most obvious – Brexit. Leaving the EU has slashed growth in every part of the UK apart from London and Northern Ireland, which hasn’t really left the single market.

Another reason is the economic incompetence of Rishi Sunak. In March he refused to reverse benefit cuts and the National Insurance increase to help people cope with the unprecedented surge in food and energy prices. His failure to cut VAT on energy and fuel exacerbates inflation and is bankrupting people and small businesses.

Finally, the Bank of England is doing its bit to squash the economy by jacking up interest rates, which hurts the majority but benefits the wealthy and does absolutely nothing to stem an inflation caused by Brexit and external shocks like the war in Ukraine.

The Labour opposition is effete. The UK is sinking fast. Scotland needs to grab the nearest lifeboat.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.


AS a result of SNP profligacy with Scotland’s finances – inventing new freebies every time an election looms – Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is letting it be known that her administration cannot meet its infrastructure spending commitments. Her claim that it could do so only if Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) provided Scotland with more money or allowed it to borrow more than £450 million is the shiniest of brass necks.

She is already provided with the largest block grant ever, leaving aside extra Covid spending in 2020-22. As for borrowing, she might have asked her leader how she can afford to spend £20 million on another divisive referendum. Borrowing requires confidence in the lender that the borrower will pay the money back. Ms Forbes wishes HMG to stand surety for her borrowing when her own track records shows irresponsibility with our finances. She has no lender of last resort of her own, and so would expect the Bank of England to underwrite her borrowing.

This is as clear an admission as anyone needs that Scotland needs to remain a part of the UK.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


MORE than three decades ago, my wife and I were “helping out” in a friend's truck stop restaurant (routiers) near Compiegne. The high-speed rail line (TGV Nord) between Paris and Lille was being built. The locals were proud as punch, and the Portuguese workforce wanted to show us the site. This was a part of the high-speed network France and many other European countries have built, both to connect the regions of their country, and to interconnect with neighbouring states.

Contrast this with the UK, and the very limited high-speed railway we have, all in the south of England. Not only does it fail to “benefit the whole country” as promised, but now the Tory Government has tried to sneak out (under cover of the confidence vote) the news that it is cutting out the section of line that would have connected HS2 to Scotland. Did we just have a UK Connectivity Review? It seems to have totally missed out Scotland, a third of the landmass of this island, and the money promised (£20 billion) has disappeared.

Perhaps we are already “independent” in the minds of UK planners, and Alister Jack is too busy arranging the deck chairs on the SS Boristanic to bother himself with the “Scotland Territory”.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Read more: Ross has been consistent and principled all along