THERE is a serious human rights issue in Scotland which needs to be challenged. The right to important health services is being denied to some without rigorous public examination of the justification for this (“Study reveals anxiety of diabetes patients during pandemic”, September 17).

Over recent months we have heard fragmented voices – health charities, individual clinicians, members of the public – predicting the damage that the removal of various services is likely to cause. The Government response is that this is an unprecedented crisis and that matters are under review. We need to unpick this.

It might have been an appropriate response in the first month of the pandemic but we are now six months on and there are going to be many months ahead. Staff carrying out services that have been cut are not mainly in emergency care.

We can see where current infections are coming from and it is mainly in socialising contexts. The Health Service and other formal settings know what the correct infection control methods are.

Schools are now providing a full education service. Social care workers are doing the same. Pharmacists and their staff are doing increased work with many thousands of the public passing through their small retail spaces. Police and paramedics have continued to have lots of close contact with the public. Most hospital staff are having to deliver constant hands-on medical care.

We need the Scottish Parliament to examine this critically and thoroughly. The assumption should be that all services offered last year should be provided now unless there are very strong reasons specified in detail.

Each of the services that are still not to be offered should be listed together with the detailed explanations, and this should be widely publicised so that we know what to expect and where the decisions have been made.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

WE have recently had the Director of Education for Glasgow issuing a communication in which teachers were criticised for potentially high levels of staff absence, although she did have the good sense to later apologise. We have also had her tell us that face coverings should not be compulsory but should be mandatory in schools. I am still trying to work out what that means.

I am a subject Principal Teacher in a secondary school and I see on a daily basis what is happening on the shared campus in which I work. Based on this, I believe that some of those who are supposed to provide direction and leadership are seriously out of touch with reality.

Classroom teachers and support staff are working flat out in what can only be described as a climate of anxiety and fear. Staff are trying to keep socially distanced and safe in schools which are not fit for purpose.

For example, the classroom which I use can be used by up to five different teachers and classes in one day. This means cleaning down desks and chairs at the start and end of every period and staff having to share one computer to control the whiteboard.

We have five teachers in our department but only three can work safely at any one time in the staff base. There will be hundreds of examples like this across Scotland.

On the issue of face coverings it is simply a fact that fewer and fewer pupils are wearing them. They can simply come to school and say, “I don’t have one”. The school provides one and they then lose it. I taught a class today and four of the 23 pupils had coverings on when they arrived. I am not blaming senior staff in schools for this, because they simply no longer have the authority to enforce rules.

The issue of face coverings in classrooms is also farcical. Apparently it is corridors and refectories which count as congested areas. The most congested areas in most schools are classrooms. The First Minister recently said that transmissions were most likely where large groups of people were meeting indoors without socially distancing.

I teach a fourth-year class of 29 students, two to a table, which means they are less than one metre apart. I would be very interested to hear how this is not a significant risk. Again, this is most probably happening up and down the country.

Last week the local authority I work for told schools to ensure that any picture and social media posts which are made public should show pupils socially distancing and wearing face coverings. I guess that means images of pupils in many learning and teaching situations cannot be shown.

Ian MacGillivray, Greenock.

MATT Hancock is telling people to stick to the rules (in England) to prevent a second lockdown. I hope he has told Dominic Cummings.

Steve Barnet, Gargunnock.

NOW that there has been a new tighter lockdown in the North East of England, is it still okay to go for a drive to Barnard Castle to check your eye-sight?

Sander Crozier, Dumbarton.

WE are now ruled by diktat, with no parliamentary scrutiny of the ever- changing rules relating to Covid-19. It is comforting to read a succession of letters supporting the views of Ian Mitchell (September 15) and summarised by your heading (September 18) culminating in “ we cannot live in this limbo indefinitely”.

Uzma Mir’s comment (“Grassing, it seems, has become our coronavirus civic duty”, September 18) that there is something unpleasant about being watched, judged and reported on by a neighbour rings true. I hope that Colin Green (letters, September 18) is wrong in suggesting that anarchy in the streets is a real possibility, but if the police need the help of the curtain-twitchers to enforce the rules, there may be realism in his thinking.

David Miller, Milngavie.

AS cancer services restart, transport of immunocompromised and frail cancer patients creates a new and avoidable risk through prolonged exposure to public transport, professional drivers, and other patients. All of these are affected by duration of exposure. Galloway patients have to endure a seven-to-12-hour journey to Edinburgh, bypassing Glasgow, two hours closer, with risk being preventable.

Most other rural health boards, recognising the necessity to travel for specialised care, offer non-discretionary support for car travel through a national travel scheme, funded by Scottish government. Dumfries and Galloway have been unable or unwilling to provide this, despite repeated requests.

In 2002 Galloway was absurdly defined as being in the South-East of Scotland managed clinical network (SCAN). In practice a geographical gaffe meant thousands of patients and relatives have stoically endured between six and 12 hours travelling, two hours or more being unnecessary, often at their own expense. Today that absurdity increases the risk of Covid.

We have at least 26 written statements of good intention by the board that remain undelivered, but our most recent communication proposed that charitable funds, not the NHS, should be used. This problem is caused by the NHS, and the NHS should mitigate the effects. Charity should not pay for the avoidable consequences of bad NHS policy.

One of the board’s unfulfilled intentions is to align Galloway with Glasgow, a mere four-hour car journey or a direct train and bus service. This requires a clear strategic plan, coordinated between several boards. We requested a board review and an option appraisal. Option appraisal was agreed by the board in 2016 but never executed.

An option appraisal would have clearly signposted the rationale and possible mechanisms for change. Four years late, we are controlled by events; strategic change is increasingly remote.

Galloway should be eligible for the same assistance as the rest of Scotland. We need to resolve why an unfair and unreasonable amount of travel has persisted over the last 18 years. Meantime, reducing avoidable Covid risk and the personal financial penalty of an eight-hour car journey seems a fair and reasonable proposal. Other boards do it, why not Dumfries?

Dr Gordon Baird, retired GP, Former Chair and founding member of the Royal College of General Practitioners Rural Practice Standing group; Dr Angela Armstrong, retired GP, member of Galloway Community Hospital Action groups.

IT is acknowledged that given the lack of a vaccine the best way to deal with the Covid crisis is to have a rigorous test-and-trace system. Unfortunately, the governments in the UK seem incapable of providing such a system. Instead they seem to prefer to flounder from panic mode to panic mode, introducing more and more confusing and bizarre rules.

The Scottish government is now threatening further restrictive measures, despite the fact that their last guidelines surely can’t have had time to be found to be working or not. Surely this state of affairs can’t be allowed to continue.

A clear, concise strategy to deal with this crisis is urgently needed. Instead of which, all we seem to get is a constant ineffectual make-do and mend approach. The public have been patient and compliant up to now but their thread of patience is at snapping point and one more seemingly unfair restriction on their freedoms will I fear, undoubtedly break the thread.

Dave Henderson, Glasgow.