THIS week’s intervention from leading doctors ("Medics 'have never been more concerned at state of NHS'", The Herald, January 3) would not have been made lightly.

Those lucky enough not to have needed to visit a hospital over the Christmas break may wonder if tales from the frontline of the NHS are somewhat exaggerated – unfortunately the reality is every bit as bad as the reporting suggests.

My 81-year-old mum was sent by her GP to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow last week. She waited eight hours to be seen, sitting on a cold, hard plastic chair. She sat with a 92-year-old woman who despite being diagnosed with pneumonia had been at the hospital since 9am with no sign of a bed when my mum left at midnight.

Is this how we care for our elderly in Scotland in 2023?

My mum worked in the Queen Elizabeth when it was known as the Southern General and has nothing but sympathy for the staff working there today trying to cope under unbelievable pressure. Given the local MSPs are Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, perhaps they could pop in and see the reality of NHS services for patients and staff for themselves? We need politicians to provide some leadership for our National Health Service instead of leaving doctors and nurses to face this crisis alone.
Kirsty O’Brien, Glasgow

• MANY hospital beds are “blocked” by patients now fit for discharge, but with nowhere to go. Could empty city centre commercial property not be utilised for this purpose, as a short-term fix? It could be divided into personal space, with a bed and storage, a central community space and toilets, with 24-hour cover from a concierge and trained care staff.

We also need to stop time-wasting over the whole range of the NHS. I have a friend whose son lives and works in Norway, who was recently fined the equivalent of £150 for missing an appointment. Why not here?
GR Weir, Ochiltree

Are Tories doing this on purpose?

THE UK Government has got itself £2 trillion in debt. The largest item in the UK budget is health spending, at around 38 per cent of the total budget, some £168 billion. Imagine if that expense didn’t exist, think of the ease with which you could pay off the national debt.

It seems to me that this is exactly what the UK Government, and particularly the Tories, have had in mind for quite some time. But how on earth can they sell such an idea to the public? Quite simple. They first have to run down the health service by diverting budgeting to managers and "bean counters" who will measure what the nurses and doctors are doing. But then they make working conditions so intolerable, by reducing pay in real terms and not providing enough budget for sufficient beds, such that nurses and doctors leave in increasing numbers. Then they can say the NHS isn’t working, "we need a new approach".

Remember that it was only in the 1990s that John Major introduced targets in the NHS. Before then doctors and nurses just got on with treating people. Now I dare say some measurement has its place, but if you take it to its logical extreme then by driving away all the nurses and doctors and employing ever more people to count the lack of progress you will eventually get to the point where there is zero compliance with the targets.

So why not revert to the previous approach of having more nurses, doctors, surgeons and so on and way fewer administrators?And even then they should be medically qualified.

It was not widely reported, but on the day of Boris Johnson’s Peppa Pig meltdown there arrived in Bristol a health consultant from America with a four-year brief to look into how the NHS could be "improved". In America 60% of people can afford to pay for medical care. Another 10% get it for free as they are so poor. But sadly 30% don’t get any health care. Is that what you want here? Because that is likely to be the conclusion of such a report.

We seem to have imported knife and gun crime from the US but their healthcare is an import that we should really avoid and for me the future of Scotland should be much more in the European model with free public health care for all and much shorter waiting times. Time for Yes.
Rab Mungall, Dunfermline

Ireland is not all it seems

D JAMIESON (Letters, January 4) sings the praises of Ireland’s impressive GDP per citizen figures and implies that a seceded Scotland could be equally “prosperous”. However, all is not as it seems.

Ireland’s GDP is principally distorted by the presence of more than 1,500 multinationals, among them most of the world’s top tech and pharma firms. Ireland is also the world’s top hub for aviation leasing.

Additionally these multinationals have been attracted to being based in Ireland by corporation tax being less than two-thirds of the EU average.

The IMF calculated at one point that a quarter of Ireland’s GDP growth could be attributed to global sales of Apple’s iPhones. Apple had transferred its intellectual property assets to Irish domicile for tax purposes in 2015.

The GDP figures don’t necessarily translate into better standards of living for the mass of the Irish people, with the cost of living being 25% higher than EU norms.

The nationalists in Scotland should stop making spurious comparisons with neighbouring countries and address the crucial issues of Scotland’s crippling fiscal and trade deficits, their incoherent currency proposals and their inability to manage their current responsibilities.
James Quinn, Lanark

Beware a new Project Darien

COLIN Gunn (Letters, January 4) mentions the clear warnings that were received and ignored in advance of the Brexit and Trussonomic disasters and suggests that we do not ignore the warnings of potential disaster arising from separation from the UK.

Some of these warnings are particularly significant because they come from the main proponents of separation. In Government papers issued in support of separation we have been told that there may be an initial downturn before any benefits are achieved; that Scotland "could not be transformed to match the success of the comparator countries overnight”; "independence by itself will not guarantee improved performance”; and, to quote the First Minister, “independence in itself does not guarantee success for any country”.

The same Government papers propose the use of windfall proceeds from future oil prices, notwithstanding the recent and ongoing volatility of those prices and a clear policy to stop oil extraction as soon as it may reasonably practicable to do so, “to spend up to £20 billion in infrastructure projects to, for example, build and renew homes to decarbonise Scotland’s housing stock, cut fuel bills and reduce fuel poverty”. That is surely a promise that is not even fit for the side of a bus.

This is not so much a case of Project Fear as Project Self-destruction by Separatism and, given the promise in these same papers of “developing borders with the UK”, increasingly reminiscent of Project Darien in which the Scottish public persuaded itself to sink almost the whole of the wealth of the nation into an inevitably unsuccessful and ultimately terminal economic war with England.

It is now Scotland’s great good fortune that it can look to the future continuation of a historic stable prosperity through its place in a United Kingdom which carries no threat to Scottish identity and which has long been the envy of the world and we would do better to work together for that objective.
Michael Sheridan, Glasgow

Unionist shame and stories

IAN Gray’s response (Letters, January 3) taking Dr Gerald Edwards to task for his relentlessly negative and partial view on all matters SNP is helpful and constructive. Sadly, as the 18th century politician George Lockhart noted following the failed attempt in 1713 to persuade the House of Lords to support a vote to withdraw Scotland from the Union, "nothing is so surprising" as the fact that "though everybody sees the bad consequences of the Union, such numbers should be prevailed on with shams and stories to neglect the opportunity of obtaining a dissolution of it".
Frances Roberts, Ardrishaig

Read more letters: We must not let emotion of indy lead us to catastrophe


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