Readers' Letters: Good palliative care best for terminally ill

Liam McArthur wants 'competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with assistance to end their life' (Picture: Toby Williams)Liam McArthur wants 'competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with assistance to end their life' (Picture: Toby Williams)
Liam McArthur wants 'competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with assistance to end their life' (Picture: Toby Williams)
Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur is bringing a new and unwarranted Bill to allow doctors to help terminally ill adults to kill themselves. This is the third time in a few years that a costly private member's Bill with public consultation has taken place and this one is not needed.

It was not helpful for the BMA to change its view to neutrality as supporters of the Bill will claim bias, but actually it demonstrates what an emotive and divisive stance it is as there is no unity. The doctors are at risk of losing trust and credibility. As the Hippocratic Oath says, “First, we do the patient no harm”.

To suggest, as the supporters of the Bill have, that compassion is only on their side is insulting to me and many others who have dedicated their lives to caring for the terminally ill over the years, both personally and professionally. Now retired, I can reflect on my 50 years of experience as a nurse, midwife, health visitor and counsellor and have many reasons for opposing this Bill, not least because I know that coercion in families can be well hidden.

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My main reason for opposing this Bill is that it is unnecessary. I have seen what a difference good quality palliative care can do to alleviate pain, fear and distress. We must focus on providing training, funding, and political will to provide the best possible care, to make this Bill redundant.

As the lobbying groups such as Dignity in Dying and the anti-Christian groups are pressing their views in the media, I hope a balanced view from organisations such as Care for Scotland, palliative care doctors and Marie Curie will be noted, and I urge those ordinary citizens who care enough to protest to let their MSPs know and take part in the Public Consultation on the proposed Bill, “Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill”, of which details can be found online.

Pamala McDougall, Inverkeilor, Angus

Rich meal

It seems £150,000 is enough to get a life peerage and a ministerial job from this Tory government.If I could cobble together about £50,000 for the Tories and invite Boris for a weekend at our But and Ben in Fife, what would that get me? Surely an MBE at least, and maybe a junior post at the Scottish Office?Failing that, how about a CBE and brunch with Priti Patel and Matt Hancock?It’s high time the government published a menu so we donors know what we’re getting for our money.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

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Utter fuels

Standing in the queue for coal, long redundant words suddenly ignite again; peat, premium trebles, smokeless ovals and anthracite. Pondering the fuel of my youth I recall the herculean men, like my Uncle Eck, who could lift a steel bucket full of ash then march off in search of a distant bin lorry. How they would laugh at my feeble attempt to wrestle bags of the black stuff into the boot of my car. I’m risking back and wheel suspension because I have net zero confidence in today’s political class. Those who have dug the UK into such an obvious energy hole don’t have the gumption to get us back out.

Wind power has predictably flopped over the last six months. From April through to September, SSE reported that power was down by a profit-crunching third. That headline figure disguises the many days without any useful wind. Trusty gas filled the energy gap last spring/summer but that super fossil fuel has been priced out of the market for many this autumn/winter. Rather than take a raincheck on unreliable renewables, Scotland is doubling down on energy failure. SSE wants to blockade the Forth with yet another monstrous wind farm. The Scotwind proposal will sacrifice an incredible 1,313 km2 of space where there can be no fishing, oil and gas extraction or bird life. Thankfully, Edinburgh has no continental ferries, they’d have to all detour via Newcastle.

The Chinese Government recently recognised the need to secure energy supplies this winter “at all costs”. Our government’s priority is the maintenance of public wind subsidies, currently standing at £10 billion/year. An energy industry still producing 1 million barrels of oil per day, at near $80/barrel, should have no claim on working class pay packets. I accept the need to reduce CO2 emissions globally but not the punitive timescale or the wasteful methods. Politicians prematurely calling for fossil fuels to be left in the ground should be given a shovel to bury the many energy poor this winter. For our MPs/MSPs have not prepared the groundwork for such a dramatic shift in power use. My Uncle Eck would immediately recognise the current energy policy for what it is… useless green garbage worthy of the bin.

Calum Miller, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Jag japes

Since 2000 I have had my flu jag administered at my local practice, four minutes from my house, sometimes without an appointment when I’ve popped in for another reason. So I am now summoned to appear at the Conan Doyle Medical Centre at precisely 12.49pm today. To where? Never heard of it. After some research l have found it’s next to Cameron Toll which, will first of all mean a 15-minute walk to the nearest bus stop, then a 25-minute bus trip. Whose clueless idea was this?

I’ll just pop next door and I’m sure they will look after me.

Laurence Doonan, Penicuik, Midlothian

Passports please

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I refer to David Miller’s letter of 30 September and his comments re the vaccine passport. I was at a concert in the Usher Hall on the 28th and seeing hundreds of people standing/jumping about, most of whom did not have masks, I would have been a lot more comfortable if I’d known they had all had a vaccine passport

Susan Robertson, South Queensferry

Proud record?

The SNP grand achievements this week: Covid passport to start 1 October 2021 – Failed; Covid app released 30 September 2021 – Failed; Covid app recognised internationally – Failed; Students (in particular) who received a vaccination in England and one in Scotland can’t prove they’ve had both! Because our system is “different” – Failed; Accuracy and integrity of track and trace number– Failed; 1,500 fewer hospital beds since records began in 2011-12– Failed; Public Inquiry hospital deaths now investigated by Police– Failed; Child abuse inquiry: Scottish Government apologises “unreservedly” – Failed.

Who honestly believes Nicola Sturgeon is doing a good job? I re-iterate, that’s just this week! Why aren’t the mainstream media all over this with every headline screaming out the sheer, utter, utter incompetence?

Andy May, Edinburgh

Rayner fall

Politeness is an important by-product of a liberal education and is considered by many to be the origin of all virtues. There are three kinds of politeness: politeness of manners, politeness of spirit and politeness of heart. The first identifies that behaviour best suited for everyday social intercourse. Appropriate habits of interaction emerge when we accept the inherent worth of each individual. Simple courtesies (a smile, a pleasant disposition or a word of thanks) help to foster a culture of mutual respect. Politeness of spirit means “empathy” and “sympathy”, the ability to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. This politeness requires an imaginative generosity. Finally, politeness of heart helps bring about what is not already there. Those kinds of realities, which cannot be brought about except by a trust-filled expectation – love is an example.

By no stretch of imagination could one call Angela Rayner’s recent outburst against the Prime Minister, polite. But, one of the advantages of a free country, and a free press is that it allows us to judge our fellow citizens, in particular our politicians, by their public persona.

Doug Clark, Currie, Midlothian

Shameful city

My husband (born and educated in Edinburgh) and I ventured back to Edinburgh recently. Although we’ve visited many times, we’ve never been so aware of the parlous state of the Edinburgh road system, plus all roads leading into and out of the City.Edinburgh is your capital city, yet roads are a disgrace. Road surfaces, many and varied, are littered with old scars/works done by all of the utility companies to a questionable standard. Add to that, a proliferation of pot holes, plus confusing, inadequate Bus Lane signage, plus worn-out yellow lines and double yellow lines; recipe for disaster. Another observation was the amount of litter lying in gutters, together with overgrown weeds.A capital city brim full of history, with amazing buildings and street-scapes that people visit from all over the world, is being let down by the local council.Who is responsible for this sad state of affairs in this wonderful city?

Pat Huxtable, Southsea, Hampshire

Tax fuel payment

Bob Taylor (Letters, 30 September) makes the case for the Scottish Government increasing the Winter Fuel Payment. He is rightly doubtful about the suggestion by Anas Sarwar that it should be means tested; that would involve considerable administrative costs and some hassle for the elderly claimants. It is also contrary to the traditional Labour stance. No doubt HMRC has the data to identify the truly needy but, for reasons of confidentiality, cannot divulge it.

One partial corrective would be to make the fuel payment taxable as was the Family Allowance in the past; the higher the total income the more of the payment would be recovered. However the Scottish Government lacks the power to do this. In any case it would be Scotland again doing something different from England and would infuriate so many of your correspondents.

S Beck, Edinburgh

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