UP to 500 patients a week are dying due to excess waits for treatment, sometimes waiting up to four days to be admitted to England’s accident and emergency units.

Those are the assertions of senior health leaders – doctors Ian Higginson and Adrian Boyle, respectively the vice-president and the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine – down south, and things are every bit as bad in Wales.

What is absent in England and Wales are the disgraceful calls we have seen in Scotland for their respective Health Minister to be sacked, made by cheap politicians and pundits gleefully weaponising the misery of UK-wide NHS failures.

I have called previously for an all-party conference to discuss the future of health provision, but doubt that Scottish opposition politicians could play any constructive role in this.

But calls for a meeting of UK Health Ministers are both pertinent and urgent.
GR Weir, Ochiltree

Any sign of that NHS £350m?

THE NHS is under extreme pressure all across the UK, but predictably while there are howls from Unionists demanding the sacking of Humza Yousaf as Scottish Health Secretary, I don’t hear them calling for the sacking of Steve Barclay, Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Neither do I hear a cheep out of them asking the whereabouts of the £350m a week which featured on the side of the big red bus, destination Brexit, and which we were assured would be spent on funding the NHS.
Ruth Marr, Stirling

* THE opposition parties in Scotland have every right to call for Mr Yousaf’s head. But they must be grateful that they are not in power and thus faced with exceedingly difficult decisions on a daily basis.
M. Thomson, Glasgow

Better self-care is important

I HAVE much sympathy with Dr Chiara Berardelli (“GPs should not work full-time, says ex-doctor who took up songwriting”, December 31), who advocates a better work-life balance. I also agree that GPs are appropriately remunerated.

The feminisation of the medical workforce especially working less than full-time in general practice, has reduced the whole time equivalent (WTE) numbers in practice.

Many male GPs are reducing their hours to contribute more at home, to pace themselves over a long career, or to take up additional NHS work for interest and reward – for example, teaching, clinical management, hospital-based sessions, or out-of-hours shifts.

It should be noted that for most a full day is around 10-11 hours, most often with no break.

My experience latterly of working 15-minute appointments ensures a quality experience for patient and doctor, and is likely to be safer. Current demand means 10 minutes remains the norm.

One effect of the expanded primary care teams is that a doctor surgery comprises those with more complex problems and needs. No longer the breathing space when a self-limiting infection is presented. Stress levels rise.

More GPs reducing their working week, earlier retirement, and the need to offer longer consultations represents the equation which therefore requires more doctors in primary care.

That contrasts with the immediate shortage and there is no ready answer to that other than better self-care.
Dr Philip Gaskell, Drymen

Republicanism and the SNP

A RECENT poll advised that a majority of Scots would wish to have a republican Scotland rather than King Charles as a monarchical head of state (“Poll: Scots ‘favour republic to Charles after Yes’”, The Herald December 30 ).

It is interesting to reflect that within the SNP there has been a discernible republican element.

This earlier found expression in the words and actions of the erstwhile MSP and Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham.

She once observed that she did not believe that the royal family should have any place in Scottish or British politics, and criticised the oath of allegiance MSPs must swear before the start of the parliamentary session

More recently republican views were expressed by MP Tommy Sheppard (“Scotland does not need King Charles”, The Herald, November 23).

Prior to the 2014 referendum, in the White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future’, the SNP said: ‘On independence Scotland will be a constitutional monarchy continuing the Union of the Crowns ‘.

That was a judgment then made after, no doubt, mature consideration that more votes for independence would be lost than gained by going down the road of a republic.

The official SNP line on the monarchy apparently remains the same as that expressed in the White Paper. The poll referred to above would suggest that they may have to look at the matter again .
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie

Crowd control as democracy

BRIAN Harvey (letters, December 29) suggests that we live in a democracy and if we don’t like what our MPs or MSPs do we can always vote for someone else.

After more than a century of unbroken government ostensibly of the people, by the people, for the people, one might have anticipated a morphing of society towards a more egalitarian model, yet that obviously hasn’t happened.

We still have the same distribution of power and wealth in the UK that was the norm in the Middle Ages.

Our current UK Government deliberately introduced austerity measures that effectively thinned out the number of poor, aged and infirm citizens and is about to allow the same or worse to happen. Three hundred thousand “extra” deaths in a decade but no retribution. Is that democracy?

We have the worst energy prices in the civilised world and the companies which produce it have, as ex-PM Harold Macmillan put it, “never had it so good”. Is that democracy?

I would contend that we have had all choice removed from us as we play no part in choosing who the donkey wearing the rosette actually is – they are party drones and if they don’t do what they are told they lose their jobs and the cushy lifestyle and kudos that go with it.

Our form of democracy is simply “crowd control” and it’s not the electorate nor the MPs and MSPs who wield the power but those who control the parties and select the candidates.

We have no real choice even if they are as completely useless as you-know-who (yes, him); they still pick up the cheque at the end of the month as long as they obey orders from above. Democracy? That’ll be chocolate!
David J Crawford, Glasgow

Beyond the smoke and mirrors

ONCE again in your letters pages Dr Gerald Edwards gives us his views on the SNP Government and its perceived failures. The latest ‘rant’ about the £300 million shortfall in funding (“More reason to doubt SNP”, letters, December 31) is something he highlights without explaining the other sources of funding that plug the gap to some extent.

I acknowledge that in politics, all parties use smoke and mirrors to accentuate the positive while attempting to eliminate the negative – or, in Dr Edwards’s arguments, accent the negative while glossing over the positive in the hope that some or all of his statements will find a target.

He is right to again compare the overspend on the CMAL ferries being built at Port Glasgow.

You have published letters from me on the subject, where I have tried to offer ideas to help in relieving the situation while the delivery of the M.V.Glen Sannox and M.V. 802 are awaited.

But why doesn’t Dr Edwards do two things that would help his arguments? The first is to accept that the current Tory government have many examples of projects that have overrun on both cost and time. One of the most obvious examples is the Crossrail project, now known as the Elizabeth line.

The second is to openly criticize, with factual evidence, both Holyrood and Westminster and to offer thoughts on any of the multitude it examples that exist where one or other of these governments has messed up.

He can then offer his comments on how things may have been done better here or in England, and how the experience of one or more failures can be a learning tool for those in power.

Until Dr Edwards does something like this his arguments won’t reach opinion-makers. He could even confound readers by on occasion welcoming some piece of Scottish legislation that actually is of benefit to our part of the UK.
Ian Gray, Croftamie

The climate question

IS there a reason as to why media polls on Indyref2 never ask the question “Do Scots agree that independence is irrelevant until we fix the climate”?
Ian Moir, Castle Douglas


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.