Readers' Letters: Call the midwifery students? Brilliant idea

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon watches students on a mock hospital ward at Queen Margaret University in 2016 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)First Minister Nicola Sturgeon watches students on a mock hospital ward at Queen Margaret University in 2016 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon watches students on a mock hospital ward at Queen Margaret University in 2016 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
“Almost 12,000 medical students to help NHS to manage in pandemic” (18 January). What a brilliant idea, to send medical students and nursing and midwifery students to help out in hospitals!

They are quoted as “having learned so much”; “There was a sense of camaraderie”; and they “felt part of the team”.Those of us who trained as nurses more than 50 years ago in an Edinburgh hospital and came out at the end of the three years as Registered General Nurses could endorse these sentiments.We started at 17-and-a-half years of age, we spent four weeks in the classroom initially and then we were out in the wards, with further four-week blocks in the classroom throughout our training. We learned from the more senior student nurses, the staff nurses and the ward sisters, who were always very hands on.It was a steep learning curve but there was fun, and certainly camaraderie. Even the permanent ward domestic staff would look out for you: “A widnae let the ward sister see ya dae that hen, she widnae like it.”We wanted to be nurses and care for patients, the training was tough but the standards expected of us were very high and job satisfaction was the result.

The staffing levels were good and our first salary, in 1968, was £365 per annum.

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It stood us in great good stead for the rest of our professional lives.Maybe there needs to be a rethink as to how our nurses are trained and gain experience. It could even prevent the large drop-out rate of nurses who do not complete their University Nursing Studies.

Dreena White, Blairgowrie, Perth & Kinross

Happy days?

What a strange world is emerging. Looking back to when inflation was in double figures and mounting weekly with mortgages at 17 per cent! When we took responsibility for our children's education especially sex education.

When we felt a responsibility to help our neighbour, not rely on the state.

When we elected politicians to run the country for us and judged them at the ballot box on what they had achieved rather than how much they had spent or whether they had a party or went to the pub after late night working. When tittle tattle was reserved for those with nothing better to do and not gobbled up daily from our mobiles.

James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

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Covid Scotland: Almost 12,000 medical students to be used across NHS in pandemic...

Free and easy

Gill Turner (Letters, 19 January) typically distorts and confuses in order to make a (rather feeble) point about the PM. More seriously, she appears to think that, as regards Brexit, it was somehow wrong for the democratically elected Prime Minister to honour the democratically expressed will of the British people. I suppose the pain of losing another democratically expressed decision in a certain Indyref remains.

However, it was Ms Turner’s almost casual comment that Brexit has proved to be an administrative and economic disaster that really shows how far she is distanced from the truth. Granted the space I could provide more than a dozen Brexit successes, plus the inconvenient facts that contrary to the doom-mongers the feared banking Brexodus has NOT happened; that the UK is the first European nation to be sending in men and materiel to support free Ukraine; and that the WHO has prophesied that the free UK is likely to be the first Western nations to be over the Covid crisis. All three are advantages of no longer being stifled by the bureaucratic decisions of a remote and unelected EU government.

Tim Flinn, Haddington, East Lothian

Yes men

Unashamed SNP apologist Gill Turner (Letters, 19 January) accuses Boris Johnson of “culling the Conservative ranks of any dissenting voices in order to have yes men and women in place”. The following is a rule change agreed unanimously at the SNP conference in April 2015: “No member shall, within or outwith the parliament, publicly criticise a group decision, or another member of the group.” Anyone who keeps abreast of the news could hardly claim that Boris Johnson is without a great deal of criticism both from within party ranks at Westminster and from the wider Conservative party membership.

Donald Lewis, East Lothian

Cost of lying?

I had to pinch myself as I heard UK Culture Secretary announce the freezing of the TV licence fee at £159 per year for the next two years. Nadine Dorries said this announcement is being made in light of the recent cost of living rises affecting households! Oh really Ms Dorries, would that be cost of living rises brought about by your Conservative Government? Like the increases to National Insurance contributions, only a few weeks away. Like the removal of the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit. Like the 2 per cent increase to prescription charges in 2021 in England (£9.35 per item).

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Regarding cost of living increases, the Conservative Government Ms Dorries is part of has just stolen £500 from pensioners by breaking their own manifesto commitment to maintain the triple lock on pensions. Added to that, it was the Tory Government which reintroduced the TV licence fee for the over-75’s. So exactly where do Ms Dorries’s “cost of living” concerns come from? If she is truly concerned she should speak to her colleague, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with urgency and, while she has his attention, she may also want to mention the abolition of VAT on fuel bills, which are about to rocket. This move would substantiate Ms Dorries’s claims to be concerned about the cost of living rises.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

Key question

Whom do you trust most – Nadine Dorries or the BBC?

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

Proud record?

Listening to the repeatedly unchallenged comments of Boris Johnson and his anointed disciples one could be forgiven for thinking he should be sainted for his personal contribution to saving the UK, if not the planet, from the scourge of Covid-19.

Ignoring the apparent party atmosphere at Number 10 and attempting to objectively analyse maverick Johnson’s devious gambles, he has manifestly failed on two basic criteria, mortality rate and economic performance. Whether considering deaths directly associated with coronavirus, now in excess of 150,000, or deaths including those termed “excess” as indirectly arising from coronavirus, now estimated at around 250,000 from latest ONS figures, the UK has suffered among the highest mortality rates in the world. Economically the UK has had a similarly unenviable outcome as the relative decline in GDP through the coronavirus pandemic has also been among the worst.

But what about that claimed “world-leading vaccine and booster roll-out”? Certainly gambling the public’s money on backing a number of favoured vaccines, and particularly the Oxford-Astra-Zeneca vaccine, got the UK off to a good start in spite of PPE stocks having been run-down or being out-of-date and the NHS in the process of being slimmed-down ahead of privatisation.

However, not only has the UK been overtaken in vaccine take-up by many countries, including a number of our European neighbours, it has also been revealed that the Oxford-Astra-Zeneca vaccine appears to be comparatively ineffective in combating the Omicron variant, with rapidly waning “immunity” making the booster roll-out a necessity.

Perhaps the next time TV journalists host another Tory MP or MSP TV propaganda slot our self-serving Tory politicians will at least be challenged on their deceitful statements, never mind on the billions and billions of pounds corruptly wasted in illegal “VIP Contracts”, defective PPE supplies and a malfunctioning test and trace regime.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Blow wind, blow

The SNP’s triumphant announcement regarding new leases for wind farms in the North Sea was understandable. In the same way as Boris Johnson, the First Minister needed a good news diversion from her “tsunami” of recent decision-making.

Unfortunately, though warmly welcomed, the new wind farms will not come anywhere near solving our energy supply problems. Wind-driven generation is fine, and of course has a part to play, but it is limited and relies entirely on the weather.

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We could start by ditching fantasy and accepting that. All the fairy tale scenarios in the world and ten thousand new wind farms will not change this simple fact: when the wind stops, the blackouts start. For every wind farm, we need an oil or gas-driven guaranteed stand-by.

There is a solution. Nuclear power will supply clean and reliable energy. The reasons the SNP/Greens oppose nuclear in Scotland are one hundred per cent ideological. Of course it will take years to build the capacity needed but we should start now.

Already, down south, small, mobile, nuclear plants are in the process of being built and utilised to help. It is vital to go nuclear if we are to combat climate change seriously.

By banning nuclear, politicians are condemning generations of Scots to come to uncertainty. They will be forced into reliance on hellishly expensive, and perhaps even then not available, imported gas and oil. You cannot shut down all our oil and gas and coal and then through some kind of fantastic bread and fishes style miracle still expect wind to keep the lights on keep and our people alive. It will never happen. And, as always, it is the poor who will suffer disproportionately.

A solution is there and merely needs embracing. Or are we going to allow posturing and dogma-driven, third-rate politicians to decide the future guarantee of warmth and light to our old, our children and grandchildren?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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