WHAT is required for good quality adult social care are adequate resources and a culture of working which gives adequate support to informal carers and strengthens the social networks of the client ("Cosla claims MSPs misled by minister over NCS cost", The Herald, November 19).

This requires timely specialist input (with GPs having a significant responsibility) and paid staff who have the time and training to share relevant knowledge with other professionals and share caring skills with family and friends. Organisational change will not achieve a change of culture.

Such a change will require adequate resources. This is not covered in the legislation, which looks towards a commissioning model for service delivery rather than direct provision. Commissioning will not (in the absence of a Wages Council) ensure adequate training, pay and conditions for staff. It is likely to lead to good employers, including many local authorities and not-for-profits, being unable to compete financially. The result, as in residential care, will be extensive privatisation of services as well as the loss of democratic accountability through local authorities.

There is also an issue as to the managerial capacity of the Scottish Government to handle major organisational change. So far it has spent more than half a million pounds commissioning private external consultants to put together a "business case and operating models" for a National Care Service. This may well open the way to multi-million-pound contracts for IT and data services. The costs of establishing a new governance structure continue to spiral.

It is to be hoped that at the very least the bill is restricted to adult social care and that Holyrood looks at alternatives to further privatisation and centralisation. The present proposals are at best diversionary and at worst will lead to a significant deterioration in services.
David Mumford, Dunbar

• ANDY Maciver's article ("The way to save the NHS is to allow it to be changed", The Herald, November 18), was well argued and informative. It challenged the political consensus that the vast, bureaucratic organisation which is the NHS represents the best healthcare system in the world.

Mr Maciver pointed out that the UK spends slightly more than 10% of its GDP on healthcare compared to less than 9% for the average country in the OECD yet we have a significantly lower number of hospital beds per head of population than comparable countries and, frequently, outcomes are poorer too. The challenge he sets is how to better deliver an improved service which continues to be funded by the taxpayer without charges to users. This is an overdue and vital debate.

Mary Thomas, in her response (Letters, The Herald, November 19), fails to address the argument that is presented. She starts from the premise that any reform requires increased funding and concludes that this can only be prioritised through Scotland being independent. For many in favour of Scotland seceding from the UK, whatever the issue, independence is the solution.

As Abraham Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
George Rennie, Inverness

Banks are the big winners

JEREMY Hunt’s Autumn Statement shows that the Tories are determined to punish anyone not in the top 10 per cent of wealth while crushing the majority of people – the poorest will suffer a 20% drop in income.

But let’s shine a light on the biggest winners in this grotesque wealth transfer from the poorest to the richest – the UK commercial banks. Not only has the Tory Government lifted the cap on bank bonuses and reduced the tax banks pay, it will also be paying £136 billion in interest over the next five years to the banks. This is money the Government gave the banks using Quantitative Easing (QE), which is creating money without incurring any debt. That’s £27bn a year that could be used to fund the NHS and education and equals the spending cuts and the increased tax Mr Hunt imposed on Thursday.

How did this happen? The Government created nearly £900bn of new money through QE, which was spent into the economy via the commercial banks. The banks put this money on deposit account with the Bank of England, where they are paid interest on money they were given. Interest rates are rising and are expected to hit 5%, meaning banks will reap an extra £155bn over the next five years they did absolutely nothing to earn.

Austerity isn’t needed and will result in horrific long-term harm to the country. Labour seems willing to follow this Tory madness. This Union is doing nothing for Scotland. We must end it.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

• THE National Debt has risen without comment or alarm from about £300bn in 1997 to some £2,700bn today. That staggering sum is merely the total of all annual deficits in that period, and is largely money created from thin air by the banking system, at the behest of government.

So why are we now being asked to pay £55bn by way of cuts and taxation? Surely that too can be similarly funded, and for as long as we can afford the interest due to the banks all will proceed as normal, and the National Debt will rise to £2,755bn.
Malcolm Parkin, Kinross

In pursuit of right to choose

RUTH Marr (Letters, November 19) was nearly right in her assertion that English voters are stuck with choosing between the two Ukip tribute acts represented by the Labour and Tory parties. She forgot – understandably – to mention that many will be unwilling to put their cross against either of the latter two and will effectively abstain by voting for, and in many cases electing, a Groucho Marx tribute candidate offered by the LibDems ("these are my principles – but if you don't like them I have others").

She was correct in pointing out that voters in Scotland, regardless of their ethnicity, country of birth or party political affiliation, have the option of uniting their voices to demand the democratic right to elect the government of their choice in an independent, welcoming and outward-looking European nation.
Willie Maclean, Milngavie

Croatia could be our template

ONE Scotland-size country rarely mentioned by nationalists in their "if they can do it why not Scotland?" list is Croatia.

Could it be because their route into the EU and the euro doesn't fit the narrative?

They became an independent state in 1991, used the old Yugoslavian dinar until the Kuna was created in 1994, applied to join the EU in 2003, became a candidate state in 2004, joined in 2013 (after a 66% "yes" vote in 2012) , and will ditch the Kuna and join the euro on January 1, 2023.

I'm sure this 31-year journey can be shortened for Scotland but if not, assuming there is a "leave" vote in an independence referendum in October 2023 we won't join the euro until 2054.

And that's if we comply with the conditions as well as Croatia did. They committed to joining the euro as a condition of EU membership. They had their own currency for 29 years, 10 of them as EU members and between 2013 and 2021 their deficit has averaged just under the EU limit of 3% of GDP.

It was actually1% or less in three of the last five years. Scotland's average in the same period is 10.7% including a Covid 23.45% in 2021, or 9.15% minus that year.

Compared to Croatia's experience and huge efforts to keep within the fiscal rules the SNP and Greens have an uphill task, not just in agreeing a currency strategy but I explaining to voters and the EU the measures they will take to get to a 3% deficit level.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

Fingers burnt once before

YOUR correspondent Alan Carmichael (Letters, November 18) suggests that faced with two evils, we should choose independence – the one we have not tried before.

Are memories so short that he has forgotten that this course of action was the one recently pursued by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng?

How's that going?
Peter A Russell, Glasgow

Mature judgements

ASH Regan and other SNP MSPs who have expressed reservations about 16-17-year-olds seeking a change of legal gender, but not biological gender, despite being too immature to make such an important decision, must consider whether or not 16-17-year-olds are too immature to vote in an independence referendum.

The First Minister is expected to defend the franchise issue, considering Scottish independence to be a more important issue than our children's welfare; indeed "the most important issue"; upstaging global warming and gender issues inter alia.
William Durward, Bearsden


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