ASK most health professionals and they'll tell you the issues with the NHS are over-stretched resources trying to cope with a huge rise in patients with complex, multi-faceted illness.

Election promises to throw money at the NHS appeals to voters because ultimately we'll end up as clients at some stage in our lives. Possibly our worst fear is rolling up to A&E with chest pains and being left in a corridor because some unfortunate has drunk too much, the resulting head injury diverting all available expertise. This is a legitimate concern.

Freeing up doctors and nurses to efficiently triage patients requires clearing the hospital receiving areas of persistent drug abusers, night-club drunks, long-term alcoholics, and those requiring psychological help. Behind these attendances are social issues that require investment in a wide range of support services.

Making promises to spend money on social care has far less kerb appeal for a politician than a promise to spend money on the NHS. Social care is perceived as a cost to the taxpayer for the benefit of "others", not the ordinary taxpayer. Providing long-term care outside of hospital for our ageing population needs money. Tackling drug and alcohol abuse requires political will and resources.

The reality is if we all want a better health service we need to address these root causes. I suspect it's because we now view health and social care as mutually exclusive – the reality is, they are as interdependent as a heart and lungs.

Robert Gemmell, Port Glasgow.

I NOTE the querulous pronouncement by the SNP regarding the protection of the NHS from sell-off under an incoming Conservative government ("SNP to lay down bill to protect NHS from US firms", The Herald, November 8). Its fear is that part of any future trade deals with the United States would include access to the UK market for the American health industries. The Prime Minister has frequently stated that there would be no opportunity for the US in this regard.

The SNP seems to think USA bad; however, a free market economy would suggest that goods and services are sourced from the best available supplier in terms of quality and price. I would remind your readers that the SNP recently approved the purchase of the much-vaunted cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi manufactured by Vertex from Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The SNP would best provide protection for the NHS in Scotland by improving the quality of its building stock.

For starters it should begin by employing building standards officers, mechanical engineering inspectors and electrical engineering inspectors and the like with sufficient service years and qualifications and most importantly the absolute powers to instruct improvement to any of the existing or future build projects of their estate.

This would by a country mile start confidence reinstatement in our primary care system by providing safe and clean environs for patients and employees alike.

Archie Burleigh, Skelmorlie.

I NOTE Ian W Thomson (Letters, November 8) is harping on about Nicola Sturgeon being considered for the Politician of the Year Award. In his diatribe about her performance as First Minister he complains about the neglect of the Queen’s University Hospital in Glasgow and the new Royal Sick Hospital for Children in Edinburgh.

Let us put both these issues in perspective. In the first instance the Glasgow hospital discovered faults in the ventilation system only after patients had fallen ill due to pigeon droppings; the affected wards were closed and the systems upgraded. The same builders were involved in the Edinburgh hospital. Just before that hospital was opened the final inspection uncovered similar faults to the Glasgow one. The Health Secretary stopped all work and instructed the builders to make sure the required standards were met. A default fee of more than £1 million per month is being paid but if the planners are at fault, then the public inquiry will show this up.

As the SNP Government has acted swiftly in both cases the First Minister has behaved in an appropriate fashion; does Mr Thomson expect her to don overalls and pick up her tools?

Jim Lynch, Edinburgh EH12.