Letters: Judging Scots Government on poor record

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ONLY last week our First Minister asked us to judge the Scottish Government by its record.

How, then, should we interpret the NHS Scotland report from Audit Scotland which paints a rather damning picture of the state of the NHS here, with only two of nine key indicators being met (your report, 22 October)?

Couple this with recent education reports of underachievement, the police, and the general economy and there can only be one conclusion.

The SNP should be judged on their record, and it is a poor one.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

It is strange that the SNP does not employ its acclaimed vision to address the “critical condition” of the Scottish NHS (your report, 22 October). Isn’t the solution obvious?

The SNP needs to save untold sums of money and improve efficiency by merging the various health boards into one centralised body – maybe called Stronger for Scotland Health Service.

Make a commitment to having a thousand extra doctors on the wards.

Get rid of a significant swathe of the administrative staff and get doctors and nurses to do their job as well as or instead of their own. Shut down local hospitals or at least deny the public access to them. Cut down on responses to calls for emergency services.

Maybe we could have doctors patrolling the streets armed with stethoscopes to carry out stop and checks for hidden medical conditions or evidence of debilitating lifestyles. Should all work a treat.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Can it be right that the NHS pays out millions a year for employing chaplains for delivery of “spiritual care”?

Freedom of Information requests show that large sums are being paid to the Catholic Church to perform rituals which NHS-employed chaplains of the wrong denomination are unable to do. In another example, NHS Dumfries & Galloway advertised in the recent past for a Spiritual Care Lead, the quoted salary range for which was Grade band 8c, £55,548-£68,484 for a 37.5-hour week, again excluding whatever amount in benefits such as pensions, car and holidays.

There are 14 NHS regions in Scotland. If each one has such a post, and assuming the midpoint in the quoted salary range above, that makes a total of £868,000 spent just on salaries for chaplains co-ordinating other chaplains and before the costs of employing individual chaplains, which can be as much as £35,000 per annum, providing prayer room facilities etc.

We have no objection to people receiving spiritual care, but can’t the wealthy religious denominations provide this themselves at their own expense?

Is it not part of a priest or reverend’s job description these days to care for the spiritual needs of their hospitalised flocks without the cash-strapped NHS and the taxpayer having to pay for it?

Alistair McBay

National Secular Society

Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh