Little comfort

As much as we understand there are always others worse off than ourselves, this is little comfort to those who need an operation but are told it is to be cancelled because of lack of resources (Hospitals cancel 15 operations a day as pressure on hospitals builds, 28 December).

It is not good enough for the Scottish Government to try to explain away the 3,000 operations cancelled in the six months to October with talk of how those with the “highest clinical need” were not involved.

The fundamental idea of the NHS is not just that it is free at the point of use but also that it is available when we need it. It seems in many parts of Scotland operations are not happening as planned, waiting targets are being missed and critical GP posts are not being filled. The SNP government like to reassure us that they are doing all that needs to be done, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

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Those who use NHS Scotland know we are fortunate to have such dedicated and able people working in it but they cannot perform miracles. They need both adequate  resources and effective management to enable them to do their job properly.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

I was horrified to read “15 operations a day being axed by NHS in Scotland”(28 December). Have they run out of scalpels?

S Beck

Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh

Flood warnings

There can’t be a more soul-destroying experience than having your house flooded with soiled water and mud, reducing many to tears as we have seen with thousands of houses in recent days.

The expensive flood control measures have in some cases failed to save communities from flooding on a regular basis and question what water control engineers have actually achieved after spending large amounts of money.

It is not surprising that developers are allowed to build houses in land areas prone to flooding as the land is cheaper but some strict controls must be introduced to stop new developments that are a disaster plan for the future.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Mugiemoss Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen

Solution to river flooding. Dredge them much deeper where they pass through villages and towns and a mile or so upside and downside of each town. Once the flood water is through the town it’ll flood on to farmland not housing. Thereafter a regular planned dredge maintenance to remove silt brought down from the hills would be required.

Stan Hogarth

Palmerston Place, Edinburgh

Blame game

I fear that, with his interpretation of my 24 December letter, Dr S J Clark is guilty of illogical misrepresentation. (Letters, 26 December).

I am not a Nationalist, nor an apologist for the SNP, or even an SNP member. My agenda is, purely and simply, the constitution, particularly regarding financial matters. Were he to re-read my letter, that may be clear to him. However, I have been driven to support independence.

The major problem Dr Clark, and those who daily reflect similar views in these pages have is (and he gets his defence in first by mentioning it) that crying wolf about the SNP in the way they do, has contributed to a rise in their support in the polls.

From a constitutional point of view, the assertions (for that is all they are) Dr Clark makes against the SNP regarding the budget and so-called “new” powers etc, could have been directed at whichever political party held power at Holyrood, because the rules apply constitutionally and not on a political party basis – they would all face the constraints applicable for an SNP government.

The Unionists have only themselves to blame for the SNP being elected – their own short-comings effectively handed power over to the SNP. Their negativity, without stating what alternative policies they have in mind, will fail to succeed – it is not sufficient to keep repeating: “There’s a debate to be had there”!

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent, Currie, Midlothian

Your headline “Scotland Office branded ‘a marketing campaign’ for the union” (28 December) is an interesting one.

You don’t need to be politically astute to work out what the SNP government, with its army of tax-payer funded spin-doctors, slick PR machine and lacklustre record in managing public services, is a marketing campaign for, now do you? 

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Barriers persist

We share many of the concerns expressed by Neil Findlay MSP over the number of those young people with disabilities accessing Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) (26 December 2015). This is an issue we have been campaigning on for some time.

Out of 25,000 starters on MA schemes last year, only 103 had a disability, clearly a deeply troubling statistic.

In this respect the goal set by the Scottish Government to ensure MA starts from young people with a disability should equal the population average for 16- to 24-year-olds, currently 12.5 per cent, by 2021 is to be greatly welcomed. This is something we previously called for and will be closely monitoring.

Likewise, it is good to see something being done for those with care experience, a quarter of whom become unemployed. Statistics are finally being collected on those taking up MAs and a tailored package of measures is being examined, including greater financial support and giving Training Providers a greater understanding of the needs of these young people.

Having a disability or care experience should never be a barrier to a better working life.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Tom McGhee, Spark of Genius; Duncan Dunlop, Who Cares? Scotland; Sophie Pilgrim, Kindred Scotland; Stuart Jacob, Falkland House School; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations

Walker Street, Edinburgh

Herod maligned

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s comparison of Isis with Herod the Great in his Christmas sermon really needs to be challenged.

Isis is a loose collection of “death cult” thugs who murder without reason and destroy everything they do not understand – which leaves every iconic building at risk.

Herod was the tough Idumean the Romans employed as a “client king” to keep the eternally unruly sub-states of ancient Israel under some measure of control.

He did so with neo-Roman brutality but he was also a visionary architect building harbours and towns throughout the territory, in particular the fabulous port city of Caesarea.

Rev Dr John Cameron

Howard Place, St Andrews

Osborne’s story

I wonder if anyone noticed the perfect faux-pas in Boxing Day’s paper (Scotsman, 26 December) under the heading: “Brexit could put UK’s position as economic world leader in jeopardy”? It was a beautifully complete example of an entirely unintended visual metaphor which actually reflects the opposite of the intended meaning of the staged event.

In the photograph our pale and temporarily interested Chancellor of the Exchequer is being shown how to hold a light piece of hand-held equipment, intended to show that we are (once again) working our way at becoming leaders in Europe. However the picture actually shows our forever- earnest Chancellor holding a hot-air gun. That’s the first metaphorical factor here. And to complete the undermining effect on real evidence over doublespeak he is being shown gripping a high quality German-manufactured (Bosch) product!

Every picture tells a story.

Douglas Hogg

Gordon, Berwickshire

Views matter

In his comment on my suggestion that trees should be removed to improve views, Benedict Bate (Letters 24 December) speaks highly of trees and woods but lacks discrimination in his opinion about their value. Trees should not be considered sacrosanct. There are places where their existence is inappropriate. The A87 trunk road a few miles west of Invergarry has a signposted “Viewpoint” which, until recently, gave those who stopped a magnificent view of mountains, glens and lochs. Now the view is interrupted by a few trees at the top edge of a huge forest. Removal of these trees would do more to offer tranquillity to and refresh the soul of the above writer, than to leave them in position. If the landowner would get his chainsaw into action, many people would be delighted.

Ken Houston

Redford Drive, Edinburgh

Quote, unquote

With his valiant attempt at wit, Allan Sutherland ((Letters 28 December) may have started a compilation of readers favourite quotes. Mine is “We have no plans to reduce working tax credits”, David Cameron in the Tory party election manifesto for the 2015 general election.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Bridging a gap

Allan Sutherland and Keith Howell (letters 24 December), with the benefit of hindsight, inform us how, in their opinion, the Scottish Government is to blame for neglecting maintenance.

The maintenance of the bridge only became the responsibility of the government in June of this year, when it took over from Feta (Forth Estuary Transport Authority).

We should be thankful that the SNP took the brave decision to build the new bridge, which was rejected by both Labour and Conservative parties, and was referred to by Labour, before the referendum as “Alex Salmond’s vanity project”.

James Duncan

Rattray Grove, Edinburgh