Readers' Letters: Government has backed Scottish Ambulance Service

Alexander McKay, referring to the problems in the ambulance service, says "in politics those in charge, if honourable, take the responsibility” (Letters 20 September). Elsewhere in the paper, on the same topic, Alex Cole-Hamilton bizarrely states that the issue has nothing to do with the pandemic and Stephen Kerr, the Conservative chief whip, says it's scandalous and that ministers have gone into hiding, hoping things will get better.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with staff during a visit to the Scottish Ambulance Service Response Centre in Newbridge, west of Edinburgh last year (Picture: Wattie Cheung/Getty Images)

But here's the odd thing as the article they are quoted in by Conor Matchett also quotes a spokesperson for the ambulance service in detail saying: "Our demand and capacity review looked at current versus predicted demand and how many staff and vehicles we'd need to meet those projections. Four options were submitted to the Scottish Government and we are pleased that they agreed to option four, our preferred option. “It is currently being actioned on a phased basis with the aim of increasing resourcing by 458 frontline staff and we have welcomed £20 million investment from the Scottish Government for the first two years of this project.”

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So there we are, the Scottish Ambulance Service have identified the need and the government have agreed to fund it completely. But one question remains. Are opposition politicians and readers unaware of this commitment or is it an inconvenient truth which conflicts with their imperative to complain regardless?

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Blind faith

Some believe that breaking up the Union will automatically make life better in Scotland (Leah Gunn Barrett, Letters, 21 September). Such an article of faith would be more persuasive if it was supported by the evidence. The NHS has always been run separately and differently north and south of the Border. Nicola Sturgeon has been in charge of it directly and as First Minister since she was appointed Health Secretary by Alec Salmond in 2007. Its travails today, with causes that long antedate Covid 19, provide one convincing explanation as to why No is ahead in the opinion polls.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Fleecing facts

Leah Gunn Barrett's typically misinformed splenetic attack blames “chronic food and labour shortages” on UK import tariffs on EU goods... but the tariffs aren't in place here yet! Covid is causing shortages of HGV drivers throughout the EU as well as the UK and, as for shortages of labour, does she propose we let massive numbers of unvaccinated foreigners come to the UK? Thank God she isn’t in charge of health here.

She writes about “hormone-injected beef and lamb” from Oz, “sacrificing Scottish farmers” which, if it doubled in quantity, would amount to 6,000 tons out of a total annual beef import figure of 270,000 tons. Pure hyperbole.

Apparently, the UK out of the EU “isn't useful to the United States”. So? The usefulness of the UK is, and rightly should be, to us as British citizens, not to the USA. Does the USA consider who it is useful to? Of course not. She simply highlights why we needed to decide our own future instead of allowing others to decide it for us. Interference in delicate matters such as the Good Friday Agreement by the EU and Joe Biden underline why measures that endanger peace in the Province must be readdressed, as the UK Government is at pains to point out.

As for “Imperial Britain” (does anyone under 80 remember that?) “fleecing its colonies”, she should look at the collapsing infrastructure built by Britain in former British colonies whose steam engines, railways, roads and power transmissions systems have been falling apart since they were given independence. Post-independence rulers fleeced those nations.

Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh

Choose your crisis

It is now the case that we open our daily newspapers to be greeted by the utterly depressing, and indeed, heartbreaking, stories of this wholly incompetent SNP administration as demonstrated today (Tuesday 21 September).

Stark and discomforting headlines jump out at us so regularly that poor Editors must be grappling on a daily basis as to which failed policy they want to lead with. The ambulance crisis costing lives, waiting times for hospital treatment costing lives, a lack of face-to-face contact with GPs costing lives, an inquiry into failings at two hospitals costing lives and the utterly shambolic ferry building debacle.

This is not the complete list of policy failures as this letter would breach the Scotsman’s 300-word limit. Those who are still blinded in their support for Ms Sturgeon and her myopic focus on independence are, like the rest of us, likely to experience her and her Ministers’ incompetence and one can only hope it will not end in the same way for them as some of the harrowing stories we have all had to read in recent days and weeks.

Scotland is a great country but that greatness is diminished daily by the sheer incompetence of this SNP administration. Things must change – and sooner rather than later.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Cable news

If one travels across Scotland, you will often see windfarms on the hills with only one or two turbines lazily turning. The rest are locked shut because they're not needed: there's nowhere to store the extra power they'd generate.Energy Luddites gleefully point to this "proof" of the folly of alternative energy sources. The truth is that cold, wet Scotland, without the protection of the Irish windbreak England and Wales enjoy, is the perfect home for wind turbines, and ought to be generating plentiful energy for export – but for want of a cable.The plan all those decades ago was that the massive surplus would go to drive down prices elsewhere in the UK. But the moment the SNP took over Holyrood, successive Whitehall planners decided they weren't going to do anything that made Scotland look more self-sufficient, even if it was to the detriment of English consumers.Political pigheadedness makes power paupers of us all.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

On their bikes

It’s not often I give the SNP credit for anything but failure but even I have to admit that, in these times of soaring energy prices, the idea of a not-for-profit energy company sounds appealing and reassuring. It’s just a pity that the SNP never follow through on promises as this one might have been appreciated. To save money, I’ll just have to give up the car and use the kids’ bikes when they are not using them.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Fuel for families

The current energy crisis which has hit our fuel supply and cost reminds me of a similar scenario back in the 1980s. Then we were all advised to search the market and get the best mortgage deal as loyalty could be costing you dear. We all know the consequences of that mis-selling. So, has the similar message to shop around for your fuel supplier come home to roost? Is there a bailout for the energy companies? Not according to Westminster.

Is there any lifeline from Westminster for hardworking families who are facing massive reductions in their household incomes with the removal of the £20/wk uplift to Universal Credit, the end of furlough approaching, the increase in National Insurance, inflation rising exponentially (3.2 per cent) and now, massive increases to home fuel costs with winter just over the horizon? And there are those who are unable to work through disability, who need homes to be properly heated. Thankfully in Scotland we have the “child winter heating assistance” grants (£202) available to families with disabled children aged 18 and under. This grant must be publicised in the current fuel crisis to allow any families slipping through the net to secure their entitlement.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

Tell us the truth

With the government potentially facing a winter of discontent, we need clear signs that opposition parties can be enticing. Lib Dems leader Ed Davey has already shown us a trick or two with those blue boxes showing how blue walls can fall. Now he has put the Tory leaders onto the backfoot by stating that the energy concern is not just a global problem. The Tory years have left us too dependent on gas with too little done on insulation and on solar paneling. Other countries are better prepared to meet the looming energy crisis of this winter than we are.

Similarly, our dependence on foreign food is an issue that has not been addressed. As this country is obviously not food self-sufficient we should have prioritised production and distribution quite some time ago. The fudge of Brexit (which has reduced trade and lorry drivers at a vital time) has made the present government seem dishonest and therefore repellent to many decent Blue voters. So Ed Davey is right to suggest that blue walls can fall.

Opposition leaders who can't match Davey’s patter may yet prove to be inadequate to the task of bringing this government down. We need good propagandists in our progressive parties but I hope we never again have leaders who use blatant lies as their main instrument of discourse. Democracy needs parties which offer clear choices because we live in grave times when we need to hear the truth about how well government is dealing with problems such as environmental decline. So I applaud Ed Davies as someone who is suggesting a new home for progressive voters of left and right. Many other progressive politicians need to be heard and not seen.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Waxing lyrical

The government says not to worry, the lights won't go out this winter.

Time to buy candles...

Barry Tighe, London

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