CURRENT party manifestos are making grand promises about how they will improve health care. However, the Nuffield Trust has just reported that both Labour and Tory NHS funding proposals would leave the NHS worse off than under austerity and that the level of funding increases would leave them struggling to pay existing staff costs, let alone be able to cover the promised massive increases in doctors and so on.

The NHS in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and all policy and spending decisions are made in Scotland. When criticised about waiting times in A&E departments in Scotland, the answer from John Swinney and his predecessors has consistently been “but our A&E figures are better than in England”. I think they could also confidently make the same claim that they are better than in Rwanda, Congo, and Nigeria.

Over 1,600 people per annum in Scotland die needlessly because of the impossible pressure on A&E departments. The A&E target set by the Scottish Government for 95% of patients to be admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours was last met in July 2020 during lockdown when the number of visits to A&E plummeted. A new analysis by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine revealed that on a typical Monday night in Scotland, out of 826 A&E patients, 106 were treated in corridors.

A&E departments are not safe places to be admitted to and staff cannot deliver adequate standards of care. The stress on medical and nursing staff is not sustainable and many are or will leave their career or country because they cannot continue to work in such an impossible environment, thus making the situation worse.

The recommended way for NHS staff to raise serious concerns about patient safety is to report this to the NHS watchdog, Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS). Recently, 27 A&E consultants at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital wrote to HIS complaining that patient safety was being "seriously compromised”. They offered 18 months of evidence to back up their claims. In its subsequent investigation, HIS did not ask to see this evidence and did not speak to any of the consultants involved. HIS did, however, speak to senior management before completing its investigation, satisfied with the "awareness and oversight of the issues and of the performance of the emergency department". It had to subsequently issue a "sincere and unreserved apology" to the consultants and upheld complaints about the way it handled these serious concerns about patient safety.

The current system for protecting patients in Scotland clearly does not work. Our politicians must be honest and openly admit to potential voters that A&E departments in Scotland are unsafe places to be admitted. They must present radical, credible, fundable, specific and independently fact-checked plans as to how they will resolve this terrible state of affairs and not just state that things are “much better than they are in England”.

Professor Ronan O’Carroll, Edinburgh.

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Concern over our water supply

RE your recent article on the proposed development at Balloch ("Thousands of objections to Flamingo Land", The Herald, June 18), I agree with all the objections regarding increased traffic, destroying the beauty and environment and so on, but I have never heard any objection about what I think is a major reason for not giving planning permission.

Loch Lomond is a reservoir supplying drinking water via the Balmore treatment works to residents of North Lanarkshire. There is no way the developers can guarantee the quality of the water in the loch without a major sewage treatment works on site. Existing infrastructure would be overwhelmed.

Bill Thompson, Lenzie.

Music claim makes no sense

IN your article on music tuition funding ("Row over legality of music tuition funding for pupils", The Herald, June 18), you report that East Ayrshire Council feels instrumental music teaching is "in addition to curricular music".

Could the council explain in what way “instrumental music” differs from “curricular music”? Perhaps “curricular music” is of the Billy Connolly School of Music variety, that is “Appreciate! Appreciate!” but God and the Headie forbid you participate?

Not only would omitting instrumental tuition in the study of music be, as described by Ralph Riddiough “an embarrassing failure of common sense”, it would be downright moronic. Does the council not grasp the fact that no musicians means no music? Or is that the point of the exercise, to further diminish the breadth of the curriculum and dispense with any unnecessary burdens on the budget?

Maureen McGarry-O'Hanlon, Jamestown.

The council fat cats

THE Taxpayer's Alliance recently released its latest edition of its Town Hall Rich List for 2022/23 revealing all the council employees with total remuneration over £100,000. Remuneration includes salary, bonuses, benefits in kind payments, loss of office, pension contributions and pension strain payments.

There are 3,106 local authority employees over £100,000 and 175 of them over £200,000. Hampshire paid one director £651,159 and Cumbria council chief executive got £586,134. Essex has 45 council bosses on remuneration over £100,000 of which seven are over £200,000 and the top employee was paid £251,052. In Scotland Aberdeen City has nine with an annual bill of £1.29 million and top salary £199,839. City of Edinburgh has 13 over £100,000 and the highest is £193,306.

However pride of place in Scotland must go to Glasgow City with 42 over £100,000 with the highest on £278,469, another five over £200,000 and 10 on £185,022. Councils plead poverty and want to increase council tax and there are potholes everywhere but they always seem to be able to increase their own salaries.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Is instrumental tuition a luxury we can't afford?Is instrumental tuition a luxury we can't afford? (Image: Getty)

Give us a clue

LIKE Robin Dow (Letters, June 18), I am baffled by how crossword compilers do what they regularly do.

I sought help from my trusted Google on how to compile a crossword, to be told that I would need a pencil, rubber and plenty of patience.

Well,well! Or could these last words be the answer to a clue "Two holes in the ground"?

David Miller, Milngavie.