The NHS in Scotland - crisis or con?

There is an albatross hanging around the neck of the SNP government and that is the worsening tale of two hospitals – namely, the problems dogging the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow and the failure to open the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

In both instances, due diligence has not taken place and from one more disturbing stories about how the ventilation and water systems are creating deadly health problems are emerging, while in the other a hospital which cannot be opened owing to faulty design is costing the taxpayer one million pounds a year.

What is even worse is that our government has, as it were, sat on its hands, kept under wraps the information it had on the mortalities occasioned by the defects and now tries to gloss over the seriousness of the situation.

Transparency and openness are the least we should expect from our government, if it wishes to retain the electorate's confidence in its declared programme for independence.

Confidence in the trustworthiness of our elected Holyrood government will evaporate with the exposure of fresh details revealing the incompetence behind those projects which are intended to save lives, not to imperil them.

While the normal default position in any storm faced by the SNP is to blame Westminster, the situation as regards the two hospitals rests right at the door of the First Minister under whose party's auspices those projects were set up and heralded as innovative and the road to better health care for Scotland.

If the government cannot get their building programmes correct, what hope have they of carrying through independence properly?

Denis Bruce


For the sake of transparency the BBC’s Reporting Scotland programme should be re-named "NHS Scotland – Selected Bad Stories". By comparison with English regions and elsewhere in the “United Kingdom”, reporting of what would generally be considered public information news is clearly of secondary importance to those directing content at Pacific Quay.

Not only do BBC Scotland’s so-called news programmes contain a disproportionate number of reports on NHS Scotland, the negative stories highlighted almost daily are invariably void of any rigorous context. The huge lack of balance in the reporting of the great work done by the many dedicated people working for the NHS in Scotland and the persistent omission of its overall high level of performance in comparison with failing NHS Trusts elsewhere in the UK is not only unprofessional but must be sickening for those who strive every day to achieve the best outcomes for patients.

The many many thousands of positive daily interactions with Scotland’s NHS that are not mentioned are accomplished in spite of limited resources resulting from decisions taken by a Tory Government at Westminster that has demonstrated repeatedly that it does not care about Scotland, never mind the health and well-being of its people who continue to be subjected to the often debilitating effects of austerity.

How extreme does the imbalance of incessant disparaging reports aimed at undermining the Scottish Government have to become for those who are sincere in objectively carrying out their roles at BBC Scotland before they have the bravery to spurn their employment as puppets in what has clearly become a devious British establishment propaganda machine?

Stan Grodynski


More than anything the general election should be about our NHS.

There are some clear reasons why you can be sure is that a vote for the Tory Party is a vote to attack our Health Service.

Firstly the current extreme right-wing Tory gang has been endorsed by Nigel Farage, who has a record of supporting NHS funding by private health insurance.

Secondly Johnson has been endorsed by Donald Trump, who is on record as making it clear that a post Brexit trade deal will involve USA getting hold of the NHS for profit.

Thirdly Johnson has said he won’t sell out our NHS to Trump. With his shocking record as a serial liar, nothing makes alarm bells sound louder than a promise from Boris Johnson.

Make no mistake. Trusting Johnson with anything of even slight value, let alone our NHS, would be madness.

K Heath

Cortachy, Kirriemuir

Scotland WILL get its referendum

Iain MacWhirter, who I have a high regard for, appears to consider Nicola Sturgeon would delay Indyref2 for a couple of years to accommodate Labour (Herald on Sunday, November 24).

That is doubtful in the extreme; Sturgeon could not allow Scotland to be a constitutional afterthought, and how would she get her party to go along with that when they are already fractious about time passing? Could Labour be trusted to meet its side of any bargain, two years later, and why would Westminster pass a Section 30 order after Sturgeon's leverage had gone? No, I would imagine the power to hold referenda would have to be devolved to Holyrood first, as a quid pro quo for allowing Labour to enact its manifesto including a Brexit policy, whatever that turns out to be.

Of course it looks likely that Boris will win the election and the Tory Brexit chickens will come home to roost when their deal is implemented: Ireland is becoming a single country in terms of trade(its why Sinn Fein are cheering on a Tory victory), and it will gain a significant advantage over west of Scotland fisheries and trade. It is going to be educational to listen to Tory bragging on “getting back control of our fisheries” as fishermen and suppliers of goods in western Scotland lose their livelihoods.

Scotland will get a referendum at some point, and the longer it takes for Anglo-British nationalists to agree to it, the worse the result will be for them. In May this year, Theresa May was reported as being willing to legislate for a second EU referendum (to gain Labour support). Corbyn and Swinson are also keen on one, yet Scotland is refused Indyref2 without explanation, even though the SNP have a parliamentary majority.

GR Weir,


Pressed by the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Nicola Sturgeon set off on a flight of fancy, revealing some of the major issues that would dominate any second independence referendum.

She claimed, based on vague talk of discussions with “different interests in the European Union”, that an independent Scotland would secure EU membership “relatively quickly”. Apparently the First Minister believes inconvenient conditions of membership such as having your own currency and getting the fiscal deficit down to no more than 3 per cent, will not apply to us in the way they have for all other new entrants.

In other interviews, Nicola Sturgeon stated boldly that Scotland would never adopt the euro, something which again no recent new member has been allowed to determine in advance of being admitted. Other senior figures in the SNP have also suggested opt outs will be granted from elements of the EU we do not like, such as the Common Fisheries policy.

This might sound implausible to many who realise the EU simply cannot afford to set a precedent to actively encourage the separatist movements of other EU member states. How easy it would be to break away and join the EU if special deals are available and no awkward economic conditions have to be met.

Fortunately the First Minister can remove all doubt on this and she must surely do so before calling for a second independence referendum. She can simply pick up the telephone now and ask Brussels for assurances in advance that the EU supports her view. If they say no then we can stop all this pretence and instead focus the energies of the Scottish government on making the most of interdependence within the UK.

Keith Howell

West Linton

Having read various recent accounts of what it means to be Scottish, versus English or british, I wonder if any other readers share my anguish at having to declare myself as british every time I want to book a holiday or open various online accounts. Does everyone else realise that no passport exists that states “Nationality - British”.

I’ve won countless £10 bets by asking people to check their passports for this statement, and it just doesn’t appear on anyone’s passport, as there’s no such thing as a British nationality. Check your passport now and you’ll see it’s a bastardisation saying something like: Nationality: British citizenship.

In other words the authorities can’t legally state that we’re british, so the responsibility lies with us, the individuals, to declare ourselves as British online or in airports across the world. I’ve had enough of it and would love one day in my life to be able to declare myself as Scottish.

Danny Gallacher,


Keith Howell complains that the SNP government "too often fails in delivering what the people of Scotland depend on it for" (Letters, November 24), but I am sure that many people in England wish that they had free medical prescriptions instead of having to shell out £9 per item, and wish that they didn't have to pay exorbitant university tuition fees, and wish that their council tax was the same as in Scotland, instead of being on average £500 higher.

All governments face challenges, but as the SNP have now been in government for twelve years and are into their third historic, consecutive term in office, it looks as though they must be doing something right; and according to the latest opinion polls, Mr Howell should perhaps prepare himself for another endorsement of the SNP by voters on December 12.

And going by the comments on social media after the BBC Leaders Debate, there appears to be many people in England who wish the SNP was in government south of the Border, and that Nicola Sturgeon was their First Minister.

Ruth Marr,


Time to make cyclists get ID

Whilst out driving I was behind what turned out to be a man on an electric bike speeding along and keeping up with traffic. I was impressed until he turned off and rode along the paths and pavements in a housing estate.

These e-bikes can travel at 18 mph and should only be on the roads. Shared pedestrian and cycling paths would become dangerous unless e-bikes are banned from them. The police do nothing about the ordinary cyclist who cycles on the pavement so I do not suppose they will do anything about the e-bike until there is a death or serious injury.

Time for all cyclists to have an identification number and insurance.

Clark Cross


Scottish books – a missed chance

How can there be a list of 50 of the best Scottish books (Herald on Sunday, November 17 & 24) which does not include any by John Galt? He may have been writing in the 1820s and about small communities but his themes are timeless and universal.

"The Provost" may be set in a small Scottish burgh but it is, for all its humour, a forensic examination of how successful politicians acquire, retain and increase their power. It is Machiavelli with a Scots accent and more jokes and is particularly relevant at this election time.

If you need to make space for it (or for "Annals of the Parish" or "The Ayrshire Legatees") then jettison "The 39 Steps" or "The Hound of the Baskervilles", both of which rely far too heavily on unbelievable coincidences and plot twists and whose characters would be wooden if they were not already made of cardboard.

Ian McGhee