NO ONE contests that our NHS needs change, but just throwing more money at it is not the answer. Until we have our independence and, like Westminster, can borrow at will, Scotland has to manage on a fixed budget. Childcare, benefits for the poor and disabled, education, even roads and railways all need money also.

People’s habits were changed by the medical care offered during the pandemic and these have remained. A&E is the preferred place to go, however long the wait, even though GPs are back in their surgeries. Why?

I believe it is that the unwell know that they will get both full examination and treatment at a one-stop shop. It saves their time waiting for X-rays or referrals, all of which now have waiting lists. People want to have their demands carried out or be made well that day.

So what do we do? We get together and design a service that we accept and that is within budget.

Who should do this? I believe it is time for us to chose lay representatives to get together with doctors from all the specialties as well as Scottish parliamentarians to design an acceptable NHS within a possible budget.

The dentists already have done so. They have clear guidelines on what treatments you can expect on the NHS and what you have to pay for. If they have to refer you to an orthodontist they tell you and you wait for an appointment.

We must accept that the NHS is no longer a bottomless money pit and we will have to pay for some, often expensive, treatments. However we could also design the sort of care that suits the present-day patient and that will continue to satisfy us even when we gain independence.

It is time to talk.
Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

What's going on at Ferguson Marine?

I AM no accountant, which may be why I am perplexed by reading that the nationalised Ferguson Marine somehow made a profit of £82.4 million in 2020/21 ("Profit slump fears for shipyard", The Herald, March 16). The facts are that the long-overdue completion of both Glen Sannox and Hull 802 remains in doubt, their cost has quadrupled and still counting, and there is doubt now expressed about the ability of the shipyard to continue as a going concern (“Fears grow over shipyard", The Herald, March 16).

How was that substantial level of profit generated, what has happened to it, and how has the shipyard continued to make any profit, even at the drastically reduced level of £130,000 in 2021/22?

What on earth is going on at Port Glasgow?
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

• NOT even that bird of potential nautical disaster, the albatross, symbolises the continuing woes of the problems of the replacement ferries. All this on top of the scandal over the bosses taking an unacceptable bonus without proper governance, whilst the cost is now expected to top £300 million.

The only bird that might be considered is the pelican, whose bill was said to hold more than his belly can, with apologies to Ogden Nash. We, the public continue to have to pay the ever-increasing bills.
Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns

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Vote Rab McNeil for First Minister

IT’S raining as I write this, heavily, and it’s cold outside, and in, as we persist in keeping the heating off until two of my fingers turn white and sensation in them disappears.

My mood is lethargic and despondent, only a couple of degrees above hypothermia, when Rab McNeil comes to my rescue ("Chancellor pursuing his not so cunning plan as politics goes all topsy-turvy", The Herald, March 14). All that doom and gloom is forgotten and forgiven as Rab’s idiosyncratic injection of common sense revives my flagging spirits.

Talk about laughing out loud. Take the time, I urge you, to read his little gem of a description under “Sports news now” where he envisages for us the size of the average football pundit’s brain. Priceless. Oh, by the way, the rest of his observations are reliably up to the mark and eviscerating if you happen to be unwise enough to come under his gaze as a lacklustre, luckless politico.

He can be a bit close to the bone can Rab, judging by the number of asterisks his editor almost runs out of, and innuendo that almost slaps you in the face, but what fun. Best few minutes I’ve spent so far this dreich day. Throw your hat into the ring, Rab and we’ll vote you into Bute House. You’ll lead us down the road to perdition and disaster just like the rest of them, but we’ll be too busy laughing to notice.
Craig Wishart, Eaglesham

Read more: Chancellor pursuing his not so cunning plan

More wardens are welcome

WONDERFUL news to hear that we are to get more parking wardens in Glasgow ("Parking warden numbers set to rise", The Herald, March 16). Let's hope they work themselves out of a job getting our streets, footways and double-yellow lines clear of illegally-parked cars and vans, so that we can all get around the city more easily.
Patricia Fort, Glasgow

An unco guid choice

I HAVE no quibble with Burns’s To a Mouse topping the list of the nation’s favourite Scots language poems ("Poem to A Mouse favourite for Scots", The Herald, March 16 ), and have quoted “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men etc" often, although in my more ornery days when irritated by the argy-bargy and uncharitable exchanges by some in the news I admit to being drawn to our national poet’s Address To The Unco Guid, or The Rigidly Righteous:

“My son, these maxims make a rule, An’ lump them aye thegither; The Rigid Righteous is a fool, The Rigid Wise anither”.

“Then at the balance let’s be mute, We never can adjust it; What’s done we partly may compute, But know not what’s resisted”.
R Russell Smith, Largs

Behind the eight balls

FOLLOWING Nita Marr’s amusing letter (March 14) about a school exercise when she chose the word "testicle" instead of "witness" as a translation for the Latin word "testis", I was reminded of a university zoology student who, when answering an exam question on cephalopods, reputedly wrote that an octopus has eight testicles. When the paper was returned, the student noted the examiner’s cruel but witty comment in the margin: “What a lot of balls!”
David K Gemmell, Lanark


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