Readers' Letters: Get creative to end bed blocking crisis

The Scotsman’s front page report “Medics reveals total collapse’ at A&E units in festive period” (10 January) reveals the lack of urgency and “can do” government thinking in managing problems that demand practical action now.
Scotland's A&E departments are in crisis (Picture: John Devlin)Scotland's A&E departments are in crisis (Picture: John Devlin)
Scotland's A&E departments are in crisis (Picture: John Devlin)

With our acute hospitals hamstrung by bed blocking with delayed-discharge patients, why is extra bed capacity not being created at the most badly affected hospitals? It may not have been used, but in the early days of the Covid outbreak the Scottish Government quickly set up the Louisa Jordan hospital in the SEC in Glasgow. Why not something similar now at the most badly affected acute hospitals in Edinburgh, Glasgow and other cities?

Where room for extra beds cannot be found by change of use of space, what about temporary buildings in car parks? Or requisitioned hotels? Some staff can be redeployed and others sourced from internal nurse banks. Levels of qualification would not be unnecessarily high, so there are real opportunities to recruit the balance from local communities.

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Why are such measures not being taken? Or, if they are, why are we not hearing about them?

Hamish Johnston, Balloch, Inverness

True Casualty

Given a TV drama series appears to have brought a solution closer to a long-standing scandal, perhaps a Scots TV producer could come up with a drama about a group of patients in an overworked A&E dept. Or perhaps even a big budget extravaganza, with no expense spared, about a group of hapless individuals trying to run a country.

Brian Petrie, Edinburgh

Get creative

I read with a heavy heart of the plight of people who had to wait up to 80 hours for care over the festive period.

Before 2004 GPs were responsible for out-of-hours cover for their patients.Every year I was on call during the festive period – not something to look forward to, as it consisted of 24-hour spells on duty, with often a relentless numbers of calls. This system, however, greatly reduced the numbers of patients unnecessarily having to go to A&E departments, often by ambulance. It would be inappropriate to ask anyone to return to work in such a system – but there are alternative solutions.

The government and Health Boards have made things worse in recent years by shutting down services in Primary Care and closing too many beds – including in community hospitals, thus reducing the opportunity to care for patients locally.

In my own town, the community hospital casualty department was closed down in March 2020 “because of Covid” and has never properly reopened. That situation was repeated across Grampian. Currently, after much campaigning by the town, including by our Councillor and MP, the department is now open for three afternoons a week “if we have the staff”.We are told the main issue is funding – but the unit was funded previously, so money has been removed.

While I was working as a general practitioner the community hospital casualty units across Grampian were being used to look after patients with a wide range of problems, something we were further developing. They were supported by telemedicine links to A&E in Aberdeen. They had equipment for blood tests and ECGs and, during the day, X-ray and ultrasound.

A&E units in major acute hospitals are always going to be busy, but we need to provide patients with alternative ways to access urgent care out of hours. Part of the answer lies in having a network of locally based and well resourced primary care centres, largely using existing premises, where patients can be seen with minor injuries and the range of acute illnesses normally dealt with by GPs. In rural areas community hospitals provide the ideal focus for out of hours emergency care – including, for suitable patients, inpatient care. They should be supported and opened, not closed, regarded only as a great source of “savings”.

(Dr) Robert W Liddell, Turriff, Aberdeenshire

Parents attacked

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So, the SNP/Greens are at it again. Having tried (and failed) to remove parental responsibility with the Named Person legislation and also having tried to permit people to change gender without any medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, they now plan to penalise parents for acting as parents.

The SNP/Greens are proposing to imprison parents for up to seven years for such matters as preventing their children from “dressing in a way that reflects their sexual orientation or sexual identity”. Children are not sexual beings until after puberty and yet this legislation assumes that they are. This draconian proposed legislation overrules the parents, even if they (the parents) believe that they are acting in the child’s best interests.

This fascistic proposal echoes the comments by the Supreme Court about the Named Persons bill: “The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children” and here they are again. The consequence of this proposed law would be the hobbling of parents whose loving aim is to “help or protect” their child – pretty much the wording of the Government at Westminster’s definition of parental responsibilities. Thus, by extension, if my 13-year-old daughter wants to dress as Sacha Baron Cohen in a mankini and I prevent her, I could go to jail for seven years!

I know that many MSPs in the ruling regime have no children. However, it is not for them to redefine the meaning of “parenthood”. Let us hope the UK Government, in the shape of Alister Jack, can prevent another miscarriage of justice from Holyrood.

John Fraser, Glasgow

Black and white

I have to agree with Euan McColm in pointing to the similarities between Brexiteers and the SNP (Perspective, 10 January). Both are nationalists; one thought the UK would be free to flower if it got out of the European Union, and the other thinks Scotland will be free to flower if it gets out of the UK Union. Both share a black and white view of the world that is too simplistic and which ignores the interdependency of the world.

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Blame Westminster

Much has been said in the last week about the Scottish economy and how the Scottish Government has failed to deliver prosperity. This would be justified if economic powers were devolved, but they are not. Every major detriment to the UK economy has originated from Westminster; unnecessary austerity, Brexit, the Truss/Kwarteng blunders, soaring interest rates… all leaving the Scottish economy poorer by billions.

We’ve also heard much, strangely gleeful, about the “black hole” in the Scottish budget. The devolution settlement requires the Scottish Government to produce a balanced budget with predicted spend matched by predicted income. With difficulty this was achieved, so there is no hole, black or otherwise.

Also, politicians do not design or build ferries. They did not fit the wrong cables, wrong size of doors, too few staircases and so on. The ferries are being built in a shipyard, not at Holyrood.

Robert Farquharson, Edinburgh

In the loop

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In reply to Mary Thomas (Letters, 10 January), the usual starting point for all separatist statements is: “The Scottish Government has to deal with the Tory-induced cost of living crisis and pro-rata, the Labour administration in Wales has almost double Scotland’s budget black hole.”

Succinctly put – blame Westminster and we are not as bad as the Welsh – it really is time the record was changed – every day in Scotland is like listening to Leonard Cohen on loop!!

David Millar, Lauder, Scottish Borders

Dogged thinking

Apparently, the sudden change of mind by the Scottish Government about banning American XL bully dogs has been prompted by someone clearing up the First Minister's misunderstanding of the situation.

Firstly, in the “tick the box” approach adopted by the Scottish Government, not banning the dogs was in clear defiance of the Westminster/England safety first policy.

Secondly, the First Minister thought Scotland's reputation for welcoming immigrants, albeit dogs, would be enhanced by the recent influx from south of the Border, and in time with residency, they might vote for the welcoming SNP. Only when someone explained to him that dogs, even if they reached the age of 16, did not have the vote, did he agree to considering a ban.

"Ruff" justice indeed!

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Not cowed

Rosalind Erskine suggests we try vegan haggis for our Burns Supper (On the Menu, 9 January). Putting a few twigs and a handful of dead grass into a plastic bag doesn’t make a haggis any more than putting a couple of pork chops in a bag would.

Why do vegans persist in poaching words to describe the leaves they eat? Do they simply not want to be associated with those other vegans, cows, who pollute the atmosphere with their waste gases?

Bruce Proctor, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

We’re doomed

Frances Scott invites us to imagine a world in which the Scottish tax take flows directly to the Scottish Government (Letters,10 January). I did – it’s called Armageddon.

Lewis Finnie, Edinburgh

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