REBECCA McQuillan ("How can ministers help the creaking NHS? Be brave on public health", The Herald, October 26) begins her analysis of the problems facing our NHS, by saying "And we know why too. We have increasing demand caused by an ageing population."

So, I, my cohort and my older friends and relatives are the problem.

Perhaps the solution is to withhold all but palliative care, as soon as we make extra demands on the NHS, due to the health problems associated with old age? But on the contrary, health professionals, egged on by Big Pharma, pump us full of life-prolonging drugs for as long as they can keep us breathing. Even when all quality of life is gone.

Why? Fear of litigation if Auntie Jean passes away before her 100th birthday because her heart gave up? The press and media understandably jump up and down whenever any person dies due to less than optimal health care. Neglect is unacceptable in a civilised society – whether due to institutional and societal failings or by an individual. However, sometimes it might be the right course of action to not actively treat heart failure in a 95-year-old, with advanced dementia, immobility and incontinence.

There is a difference between assisted suicide and allowing a person to pass away because their organs have reached the end of their natural life, rather than keeping them on pharmaceutical life support. Death is not always a failure.

This is a conversation our society needs to have.

Susan Walker, Callander.

Wilful blindness

REBECCA McQuillan asks how ministers might help the NHS. Good question, but the wrong diagnosis and the wrong answers from Ms McQuillan, I’m afraid.

In her diagnosis of the problem she inexplicably omits the fact that the NHS does not have the capacity to meet demand. There are not enough beds, staff or diagnostic equipment, and if it did it would not have enough money to use them.

This in the trade is known as wilful blindness.

Prevention is not a substitute for healthcare but merely a useful supplement. She may not know that the UK is already a world leader in spending on prevention, with spending running at twice the European average. This is no consolation to people wanting and needing healthcare now.

I would commend her reading “Bigger Government" by Marc Robinson (an FT book of the year in 2020) which concluded that spending more money on healthcare and social care was inevitable, desirable and affordable.

Ms McQuillan is therefore wrong in her diagnosis of the problem, fails to identify the most obvious solutions, and would divert effort and resources ineffectively. In fact, spending more on diagnostics while a good thing will increase pressure in the short term and the pursuit of "integration" as a panacea will once more act as a diversion from the real problems: lack of capacity and resources.

Ministers can help alright, but they should first read Robinson.

Roger Steer, Beauvoir-sur-mer, France.

Read more: How can ministers help the creaking NHS? Be brave on public health

The shame of UK poverty

I FOUND Kathleen Nutt’s article ("Politics is most potent when it focuses on human suffering", The Herald, October 27) harrowing. She notes that extreme poverty has doubled across the UK since 2017, resulting in a shocking 3.8 million people in the UK suffering from destitution.

This terrible number has come about under the watch of the Conservatives at Westminster, no ifs, no buts. But as Ms Nutt notes, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s speech to the Labour Conference concentrated on the plight of a single parent with two children struggling to make ends meet. Yet his policies will mean many others who have to endure the two-child benefit cap will continue to struggle.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report found that destitution was rising at a slower rate in Scotland, attributing this to the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment of £25 per week for all eligible children, something Sir Keir should be committing the Labour Party to introducing throughout the UK if indeed he and Labour are serious about tackling poverty. No child deserves to be brought up in poverty, no adult deserves to live in poverty, let alone destitution.

It is harrowing to think that the UK is one of the richest countries in the world, yet due to the greed of the capitalist society we find ourselves living in, 3.8 million of our fellow citizens are denied the basics.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Poor bankroll the wealthy

HOW lucky we are to have a government and Bank of England to increase the interest rate to reduce the inflation rate caused by the unnecessary increase in energy costs.

It is after all only right that the CEOs and shareholders of the energy companies should make unearned and obscene profits from our money as we pay over and above for our energy.

Now, after the executives and shareholders of the energy companies have had a big payout the Government is lifting the cap on bankers' bonuses just in time for their executives and shareholders to cash in on the unearned and obscene profits from the unnecessary rise in interest rates caused by the unnecessary rise in energy costs ("Bankers’ bonus caps to be scrapped to make UK ‘appealing finance hub’", The Herald, October 24).

The inflation rate will of course fall just in time for the next General Election and the Government will try to claim credit for it falling even though it was it who allowed the situation which caused most of the increase in the inflation rate.

Increasing the bank interest rate was never going to affect the cause of the increase in inflation but it was always going to result in unearned and unnecessary profits for the banking sector.

Lloyds Banking Group has just reported pre-tax profits of £1.9 billion ("‘Robust’ Lloyds brings big relief to investors", The Herald, October 26) and the CEOs and shareholders of all the banks must be shedding tears of joy thinking of all the big bonuses about to fall into their laps.

Once again we see a money transfer scheme where money is taken from the poorer members in society who are struggling to survive and paid into the bank accounts of the wealthy who in a lot of cases have more money than they will ever be able to spend and who will never need to worry about turning their heating on.

According to Scottish Ambulance Service figures 799 people were taken to hospital between December 1 and 18 last year with hypothermia.

Iain McIntyre, Sauchie.

Read more: Bankers' bonus debate shows how morally corrupt society is

Why is the focus on Israel?

FOR the sake of argument, let's grant that the Israelis and Hamas have both recently suffered wrongs at the hands of the other. Let's not, for the moment, argue about the degree of the wrongs. We know that there are endless historical antecedents to the situation, but what has happened recently?

Following the uneasy equilibrium up to October 6 it was a clear case of stimulus and response, cause and effect. I would like to understand why the world's attention has been shifted so relentlessly downstream onto the moral quality of the Israeli response to Hamas's stimulus, a response that, by definition, would have been absent without that stimulus, and away from the actions of Hamas.

Why are the Israelis subjected to so much more intense scrutiny? Is it that they are considered to be of inferior moral worth, and more likely to behave badly than Hamas? Are they more deserving of correction as if they are naughty schoolchildren to our moral adults? If so, is this because some regard Jews to be of inferior moral worth to the rest of us and, therefore, more likely by nature to be found at fault?

I am not Jewish.

Guy Walker, Edinburgh.

Hypocrisy over Russia

MACHIAVELLI is quoted as stating “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. John Birkett and John McSweeney (Letters, October 27) think differently, but the West is isolating itself in the affairs of the world if it only deals with those who pass the “smell test” - though this is arbitrary at best, as we have happily allied ourselves to those who run appalling dictatorships or despotic regimes.

Nowhere is this better illustrated at present than Israel and its decades-long conduct toward Palestinians (as opposed to Hamas), where a substantial portion of the world see only partiality and hypocrisy when comparing western inaction to the sanctions imposed over the Russian invasion/annexation over parts of Ukraine.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.