IT was wonderful to read a good news story in Neil Mackay’s column about the new BBC drama depicting a couple with Down Syndrome ("There is decency out there, and this TV drama proves it", The Herald, October 25). In this era of chaos and crisis it is heartening to hear examples of how attitudes to learning disabilities have changed.

Adults with learning disabilities are no longer hidden away in institutions and are therefore more visible. Organisations like the Richmond Fellowship Scotland provide high-quality care to allow people like my relative to live in her own flat in the community. But prior to that she was an inpatient in a psychiatric ward for three whole years until social work were able to find this appropriate solution for her particular needs. All the many professionals involved in her extremely in-depth assessments and the staff at the costly hospital environment in which she waited were excellent. However, this is another mind-boggling example of how the NHS had to meet a far higher price because financial investment in the care sector is inadequate.

Further, there is another contradictory aspect in the current approach towards people with learning disabilities. During the first trimester of pregnancy, all women are offered prenatal testing for Trisomy 21, the genetic cause of Down Syndrome. Ninety per cent of positive screening tests for Down Syndrome result in termination. The reason for this may be multifactorial and involve personal individual circumstances. However the law allows terminations for Down Syndrome beyond 24 weeks, which is the current legal limit for the procedure in other circumstances. This may be viewed as discriminatory against disability, listed as one of the protected characteristics in the Equalities Act 2010.

As George Orwell asserted in Animal Farm: "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others." It is certainly something to celebrate that well-functioning adults with learning disabilities have many more opportunities than they did in the past. Unfortunately the underlying attitude persists that having a disability makes a person less important and less desirable in our society.
A Practising GP; name and address supplied

Smart meters not a bright idea

I HAVE just received a postcard from my energy supplier, OVO, energy stating "Your new smart meter is ready and waiting for you". This is brainwashing, since I did not inquire about smart meters and have no intention of fitting one.

All the energy companies are doing the same and they are getting desperate because the Government is penalising them for not doing enough to get customers to accept smart meters. The reason? There will not be enough electricity for our needs so the Government wants the National Grid to be able to cut off areas or individuals with the push of a button. Smart meters will do that.

Now it has been revealed that hundreds of thousands of Chinese smart meters have been installed by three energy companies in the UK and could be used by Beijing to "destroy" the National Grid. The manufacturer of these smart meters has undercut European competitors by 30 per cent. Still think smart meters are a smart idea?
Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Licence saga anything but fine

THANK you for giving me a laugh and light relief amidst the Westminster chaos. Yesterday you ran an article warning drivers to update photographs on their driving licence photocards, citing Section 4b ("900,000 drivers risk fines over old licence pictures", The Herald, October 24). Failure to do so, you reported, may result in a £1000 fine.

You also stated that drivers could go online to renew such licences and photos, and would have replies within five days. I had to laugh.

In October 2021, I started the process of renewing my medical three-year driving licence, due to expire on January 6, 2022. I sent innumerable emails; an actual letter containing all relevant details; further pleas (by which time I was in New Zealand) and a final attempt writing to then Transport Minister Grant Shapps (meanwhile driving without a lawful licence and feeling very stressed, but reassured by my evidential correspondence); my licence was finally issued in July, 2022. Nine months!

Is this the same Grant Shapps whom Liz Truss made Home Secretary and who is now Business Secretary? He couldn’t handle the Transport Department, similar to the pathetic performance of the Passport Authority. Covid was a great excuse for failure.
Lesley Mackiggan, Glasgow

Take pity on our pets

I HEARTILY endorse William Loneskie's sentiments about fireworks (Letters, October 25).

In addition to the comments made, I would add the effects on animals. One of my dogs was absolutely terrified and it took some time to calm her down.

When I think of the economic state of the world it seems obscene to spend vast amounts of money on such things.

At New Year we are subjected to displays from all round the world, each city trying to outdo each other.

It’s time to draw a halt to this practice.
Gordon W Smith, Paisley

Sometimes, life's a scream

BATS – not quite in the belfry at Whitby Abbey ("Bats about Dracula", The Herald, October 25) – but definitely in the air at Floors Castle, Kelso. I had bats in mind, and around my head, during a walk in the gardens there yesterday. There were bats, ghouls, skeletons and other scary things hanging in the trees and from walls and crawling up from holes in the ground. I especially took a shine to a rather horrid skeleton who was pushing a lawnmower over the body of a prostrate ghoul .. the body being cut into pieces. Nice, I thought. Things in bloody bathtubs and on toilet seats are there to delight/horrify: whatever is to one's liking.

Judging from the sound of the screams of the children being taken around they were enjoying it too. Or was it the parents screaming and the children laughing?
Thelma Edwards, Kelso

Don't wake me, I'm learning

I AM heartened by research ("Toddlers nap ‘when brains are ready’", The Herald, October 25) on why some young children still enjoy a daily nap while others have stopped, which shows that when they reach a limit of memories which can be stored without being forgotten, this triggers the need for sleep.

As an octogenarian I now can now justify my occasional post-prandial snooze on the grounds that it allows me to store even more information. “Second childhood” be damned.
R Russell Smith, Largs


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