IT was Jim McColl and his organisation who were responsible for the failure of Fergusons and the failure to delivery two ferries. At least, that's what the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and CMAL would happily have had us believe. So he was stripped of his company because the Scottish Government knew best and appointed Tim Hair, the "Turnaround Director" at eye-watering cost to you and me as taxpayers. He left, but did he turn it around? I think we know the answer now in indisputable terms: no.

Next up, David Tydeman, but even he couldn't turn the ship(yard) around, and so Fergusons board are telling us they want "strong leadership". Just how strong? Strong enough to call out the fact that if the fundamentals are wrong, then nothing will work? We have just seen what happens when the CEO speaks truth to power: unceremoniously booted out ("Big pay-off for sacked chief of troubled ferry firm", The Herald, March 27).

I listened to much of the evidence to the previous inquiry on ferries and it was abundantly clear that CMAL and Transport Scotland, along with naive (at best) ministers are culpable for most of what's gone wrong. They procured the wrong ferries (too big, expensive, too many crew), with the wrong fuel (LNG imported from halfway around the world with no bunkering facilities available anywhere in Scotland), and changed their mind endlessly on a design that was far too sparse to begin with, and then refused to admit their catalogue of mistakes and have continued to pour taxpayer money even when they knew the Glen Sannox was nearly beyond redemption.

Careful research will show that no-one from CMAL, Transport Scotland, or indeed any Scottish minister, ever resigned, or "had their contracted terminated" over this scandal that is beyond parody. The Scottish public however are not fools. They can keep replacing the CEO, but until they clear out the deadwood establishment from these organisations, nothing will change at Fergusons. The game is up. Whether ferries, hate crime laws that are beyond ridiculous, our NHS, dentistry, abject failures on the constitution or gender reform laws, policing that won't investigate real crimes, this Government is not fit to run the country.

So how many SNP MSPs will finally see the light and do what's best for their country? They should withdraw their support for their Government, just as the Tories have done in the past in Westminster, and bring about the change the country so desperately needs. Those SNP MSPs (very slowly growing in number) will vastly improve their chances of re-election by bringing about the end of the Sturgeon/Yousaf cabal that has failed Scotland so badly.

Jamie Black, Largs.

READ MORE: What planet are Keith Brown and the SNP on?

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READ MORE: NHS is falling apart - we need brave politicians to solve this crisis

Reasons for the deficit

DOUGLAS Cowe (Letters, March 28) obviously missed Professor Mark Blyth’s subsequent rebuttal that his comments on independence were taken out of context.

There is no logical reason why we couldn’t be a successful independent nation as Scotland’s GDP per capita was £38,622 in 2022 and, based on World Bank figures, is around the European Union average and higher than in Italy, Spain or Portugal. With our vast energy surpluses, including £10 billion in oil and gas revenues, plus £4 billion worth of electricity transferred south last year, it is not in England’s interest to impose a hard border with an independent Scotland which is England’s fourth largest trading partner.

Last year GERS charged Scotland £9.1bn for notional interest payments on the UK National Debt. As the Bottom Line think tank pointed out, “two-thirds of Scotland’s notional current account deficit in 2022-23 was due to two aspects of poor UK economic management: the cost of living support that was necessary due to inflation in the UK that was higher than other advanced economies, and the significant increase in the cost of servicing public sector debt. These result from UK policy mistakes including Brexit, and its impact on inflation, greater exposure to global oil and gas prices than other countries and the decision to index-link a much higher proportion of government debt than any other country, increasing the exposure of UK public finances to inflation”.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.

• WHERE do I begin with Douglas Cowe's letter? With a few questions: 1. Does he actually need figures to prove that the likes of Ireland and Norway are richer and fairer than Scotland?

2. Is being part of the UK the only way for Scotland to be a proud nation with enviable culture, self-reliance and patriotism, whatever is thrown at us?

Finally, Mark Blyth was criticising a single way of doing independence, not saying that it couldn't be done sensibly. I invite Mr Cowe to read his entire discourse. Then he should read about his anger, in respect of a small part of what he said, being taken out of context by unionist politicians.

Iain Cope, Glasgow.

Give us back our police

IN Scotland in 2024, I now sense an endemic low level of lawlessness.

I work in Ayr and I constantly smell cannabis while walking to the office. On a different sojourn to work, I was behind three men discussing how much money they had made over the weekend from selling drugs. In my hometown I watched a man run out of a local ASDA recently with a green shopping basket full of food. A friend tells me that the supermarket he works for no longer even deals with shoplifters unless they steal "big-ticket" items. A colleague told me that her car was damaged in a private driveway and no action was taken. I could go on.

The only solution I will suggest is that perhaps the police should be used as police again, rather than the uniformed, militarised social workers that the SNP has been using them as since 2007.

David Bone, Girvan.

Lording it up

YESTERDAY (March 27), I chanced upon a live debate from the House of Lords. I was struck by the packed red benches that are usually very sparsely filled The debate was on increases to the allowances and expenses paid to the unelected members. Not surprisingly, the increases were voted through. A short recess was called, during which the hordes vanished.

The following debate was on leasehold laws on residential property in England which was attended by about 20 members.

The departed, having signed in and voted on a pay and expenses rise for themselves, had probably retired to the heavily subsidised exclusive bars and dining rooms and to submit their claims for their tax-free attendance allowance of £342 for their hard day's work.

David Hay, Minard.


Focus on use of NHS staff time

REBECCA McQuillan ("NHS could be envy of the world again. Here's how...", The Herald, March 29) suggests focusing on preventative health to reduce the demand on the health service and get it “working properly” again. There is another area which needs attention.

A Public Health Scotland report shows that in 2021/22 NHS Scotland spent a total of £12 billion on operating costs for hospital and community services. Of this, £7.6bn (63%) was spent on employing staff. Improved levels of service should be possible through focusing on what these staff do.

In any large organisation inefficiencies arise through continuing practices which reflect "the way we have always done it" even when these activities no longer add value. Reliable anecdotal evidence suggests that the NHS is far from immune to such inefficiencies.

Improvements can be achieved by measuring and categorising staff time. The cost of staff time spent directly treating and caring for patients would be recorded as "productive time". The cost of time spent by management, administrative and other support staff and time spent by clinical staff on activities not related to patients (for example, training courses) would be recorded as "non-productive time". A target would then be set to increase productivity (the proportion of the total staff cost engaged in directly delivering the service) and this target gradually increased. This would result in activities which do not add value or which duplicate other activities being reduced or eliminated.

It would be most effective to implement this by giving autonomy to individual teams as to how they organise themselves, spend their budgets and innovate. There could also be financial incentives (bonuses) for achieving and exceeding targets measured as defined outputs.

One of the biggest blockers to change in the NHS is the fear that its founding principles will be compromised. Nothing suggested threatens the principle of treatment free at the point of use. It is that principle which is worth protecting rather than the organisational structure and bureaucratic culture which has developed since its inception in 1948.

George Rennie, Inverness.