THE UK Government has recently been discussing the possibility of building 24 new hospitals. While that is no doubt possible, the staffing of such an enormous project must be very much in doubt.

That's because, for some years now, the medical faculties of our universities have been taking in a growing number of overseas students and rejecting applications from equally talented British youngsters. Foreign students pay £30,000 per annum, while UK students can only be charged a maximum of £9,250 [£1,820 for home medical students in Scotland]. This gross imbalance has got to be reversed if our nation is to have proper health care in the future.

For example, the percentage of overseas students currently studying at the London School of Economics is 70 per cent and three courses are made up totally of foreign students.

While the stated maximum number of overseas university students our Government says it will educate by 2030 is 600,000, we already had 605,130 with us in 2021. This is self-destructive lunacy.

The health of our nation depends on new doctors replacing those retiring, so all our politicians must see to it that our universities are enrolling more UK students from now on, not fewer.

Archibald A Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife.


I'VE long wondered why areas of grass (near Holyrood, or round hospitals, for example) are allowed to grow long and straggly. Maybe it's for the benefit of pollinators, I told myself, giving me a nice green comfy feeling in my tummy.

Now we have learned that Lord Brodie's Scottish Hospitals Inquiry, on problems that surfaced up to seven years ago and design flaws many years older, has been suspended until the autumn. The cynic in me whines that long grass can be a convenient place to kick things into, and that nice green feeling begins to turn a bit queasy.

The man-hours involved in this inquiry, together with the mountain of evidence already taken and the mounting millions it is all costing, must give everyone involved sleepless nights, and I congratulate The Herald and others for their efforts to keep tabs on it all. At least nobody can blame it on Covid.

James Sandeman, Newton Mearns.


I SUGGEST the letter from Peter Dryburgh (July 1) regarding the cordial coexistence between Sweden and Norway to be a trifle misguided. The fact is that many Norwegians still feel bitter that their neighbours prospered by the sale of iron ore to Germany during the last war. Sweden also allowed the safe passage of the German troops when Norway was invaded.

After the break away from Sweden in 1905, for many years the Norwegians were very poorly regarded by Sweden. Since then the discovery of Norwegian oil has totally changed their perspective and self-confidence, all to the disgust of Sweden. The old joke still ensures an invitation to try their refreshment. If a Norwegian asks if you know how to save a Swede from drowning, and the answer is "No" then the response is "Good, have a drink".

When I later worked in Sweden I heard the same joke in reverse.

Perhaps this type of joke is universal. I recall overhearing a charming very old neighbour saying to her granddaughter, of tender age: "No Dear, I don't hate the English all the time, only when they come to Murrayfield every two years."

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.


I HAVE always been intrigued by the fact that certain members of the royal family are subject to a change of identity when they come to Scotland. Prince Charles becomes the Duke of Rothesay, Prince William the Earl of Strathearn, Prince Harry the Earl of Dumbarton, Prince Edward the Earl of Forfar, and Prince Andrew the Earl of Inverness. I have also been intrigued by what is involved in the selection process of such communities. I tend to doubt that they have much say in the matter.

Let me suggest that the next time a place is being sought to attach such a title why not go for the township of Kirkintilloch? It is an ancient community, the name of which means "Fort at the Head of the Hill". The fort referred to was one of those along the line of the Roman Antonine Wall. It was a town once well known as a dry town where alcohol was prohibited in the 1900s. It is a town with much going for it and, insofar as we still have a need for such aristocratic sobriquets, it is worthy of recognition.

The name "Kirkintilloch" would trip off the tongue. The royal family, experience shows, could do a lot worse than observe the words of the town’s motto: "Ca’ Canny , But Ca’ Awa'."

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


TO lain Macwhirter's list of aggressive harridans ("Women can't start wars? What a load of Boadiccas", The Herald, July 1) can be added so recent an example as Madeleine Albright, who horrified Colin Powell by asking him: "What's the point of having all this military might if we never use it?" Powell realised, as she evidently did not, that a civilised person carries a big stick in the fervent hope of never having to use it.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.


I REFER to John Macnab’s letter regarding Wardlaw's Church (Letters, July 4). In the end it wasn’t the railway which spelled the end of Dr Wardlaw’s legacy to Pitt Street, but a disastrous fire; Elgin Place Congregational in its reincarnation as a night club ­– in 2004, I think. Dr Wardlaw must have turned in his grave.

Brian D Henderson, Glasgow.


ALMOST every person being interviewed on Radio 4, especially the MPs and MSPs, says "what I would say" whenever asked a question in an interview. If what they actually do say is not what they "would say" then what is preventing them from saying it? Have they been banned from telling the truth; are they under orders to tell untruths and are trying to fool the listeners by obfuscation? "What I would say" has joined the list of things I am tired of hearing. I just want the truth. I am fair flummoxed. What is going on?

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


MY favourite image of Bud Neill’s lugubrious Mrs Thomson (Letters, July 1 & 4) is of another wifie meeting her in the street and saying, “Mornin, Mrs Thomson. Whit are ye near deid wi the day?”

Kate Gordon, Brookfield, Renfrewshire.