Readers' Letters: It’s time to find a better way to fund the NHS

Welcoming the appointment of Humza Yousaf as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Dr Lewis Morrison says that “NHS recovery must be synonymous with staff recovery as we look to provide a more normal NHS service” (your report, 20 May).

Humza Yousaf has been appointed Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

Speaking as chairman, he tells us that "BMA Scotland believes it is time for a honest conversation with the public, healthcare professionals and politicians alike, about what we need NHS Scotland to deliver in the long term".

I suggest this conversation includes consideration of how to solve the inherent contradiction of our tax-funded system of free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare. While almost all of us all agree that healthcare resources should be a priority, and should be allocated according to need, any government which has the task of allocation is – even in normal times –subjected to the pressures of competing demands from business, workers, education, defence etc.

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A permanent solution could be as follows: National Insurance could be replaced by a National Health and Social Care Service Tax, fixed at a specific percentage of all personal income – earnings, dividends, interest and benefits. Responsibility for administration and management could be subject to a totally new, separate avenue of democracy. Local residents could elect local boards which would manage the service locally, and send delegates to a national board. This National Health and Social Care Board would have the responsibility for setting the level of this predicated tax, and for the allocation of resources to each local board.

Alternatively, the NHS board could be directly elected on a national basis. Either way, the offer of candidates, independent and party-supported alike, would include support for a specific level of the financial contribution demanded from each and every citizen.

David McIlwaine, Ormond Court, Larbert

Judge ministers

While Nicola Sturgeon shuffles her pack of Government ministers from a shrinking and limited talent base, surely some independent scrutiny of an individual’s performances should be part of the process? Rather, it appears that the same favoured individuals are simply rotated without regard to performance in previous briefs. Understandably this government has shied away from setting clear and precise targets for attainment, but perhaps by doing so the electorate would be more inclined to have confidence that some (any?) progress was in fact being achieved. Performance rating linked to salary and career progression are now part of many ordinary working peoples’ lives. It must be the same for our governments.

Duncan F MacGillivray, Dunoon

Revere Blackford

If we believe in parliamentary democracy and its universal principles, Tory intransigence must now cease. Since the result of the Scottish election the Conservative party has become increasingly deluded, dishonest and indeed, sleekit! However the facts are, in Holyrood, 72 seats out of 129 are for independence and in the constituency or first past the post vote, the SNP took 62 out of 73 seats i.e. 85 per cent of the seats available; the highest number of constituency seats won by any party in Scotland.

Along with the highest turnout recorded, the SNP have broken Scottish parliamentary records with the number of votes received and achieved the highest share of the constituency vote ever recorded in a Holyrood election – and this after 14 years in power. And yet Ian Blackford, our nation's representative in Westminster, is ridiculed every time he stands up to speak. Courtesy, along with democracy, has abandoned Westminster!

In any democracy this was a landslide result which ensures the governing party can implement all its manifesto promises. With the Lib Dems and Labour continuing to lose votes it is certain they will come to accept that this Scottish parliament has a mandate for a second referendum.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore

Absurd claims

Derek A Brady makes a very fair point (Letters, 20 May) regarding the claim of a mandate for a second independence referendum from the SNP after the Scottish parliamentary election result. As he points out, the evidence of the total votes is that a majority of votes were cast for parties which oppose a second referendum.It is entirely predictable that the SNP and its supporters should make such a claim but I am astonished that the media seem content to allow them to perpetuate such a myth without challenge. Quite apart from there being only a minority of votes cast in favour of a referendum, there is an even smaller minority of the total electorate who voted for the SNP’s manifesto.And that brings me to the equally important point that the SNP claim they should be able to pursue any ambition they wish, even if they do not have the legal power to enact it, because it was in their election manifesto so they have “a mandate”. On that basis they could unilaterally remove the Faslane nuclear facilities. How absurd!

Alan Thomson, Kilcamb Paddock, Strontian

Back and forth

It's interesting to read in responses to my letter, neither Kenn McLeod nor Andrew Kemp address my basic point about the use of intemperate language in describing the individuals who protested against immigration officials as a “mob” ( 20 May) . The right of peaceful assembly to protest in this liberal UK of ours goes back centuries, think of the introduction of the Corn La ws and the Jarrow Marches. And yet Mr McLeod chooses to equate what happened in Glasgow’s Kenmure Street with a crowd of rampaging football supporters fuelled with alcohol, vandalising memorial benches and fighting amongst themselves.Then there is the element of completely distorted response. My letter fully acknowledged that an independent Scotland will have to have an immigration policy with legal boundaries, but Andrew Kemp translates this into a policy which states into “a ll incomers welcome, no questions asked”. He then hits Project Fear overdrive, saying independence would sound the death knell of the Common Travel Area and would require a hard border with England. Not content with that, he says the 96-mile border between England and Scotland would need to be fenced.It's possibly understandable that the border situation which operates amicably between the Scandinavian countries, not all of whom are EU members, and is not widely publicised, has passed Mr Kemp by. It’s less easy to accept that he is unaware of the border arrangement between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, negotiated between the UK and the EU. But of course, the original Project Fear didn't encumber its arguments with facts either.

Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

Ticket off

Along with thousands of others, my husband and I purchased Senior Railcards. We have been deprived of using these because of the pandemic, which is quite understandable.When I asked British Rail if they were going to be honouring these for a further year, I was informed that it was a government decision not to do so!But they would not need to send out new cards, these are checked when purchasing tickets, and again on the train, with the date of expiration on them.All the inspectors need to do on the train is check that date and add one year to it!It’s not rocket science!

Ruth Arthur, Peterculter, Aberdeen

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Go federal

Gordon Brown wants a discussion about the constitution of the UK as an antidote to the seemingly inexorable and undesirable slide towards Scottish independence. My preference would be for a federal system, either of the four nations or of the three smaller ones plus some sort of subdivision of the largest. Some day it may include the rest of Ireland, but that is another matter. The federation would involve the scrapping of the now indefensible House of Lords with its hereditary peers, bishops and cronies and the establishment of a partly elected, partly ex-officio parliament responsible for Foreign Affairs, Defence, Macro-economics and, perhaps, Science. It would be situated well away from London, possibly in Yorkshire.

Federal governments work perfectly well elsewhere. A country calling itself the United Kingdom should be a perfect fit.

John Henderson, Mackenzie Street, Carnoustie

Don’t panic

With the possibility of Renfrewshire and Midlothian to follow Glasgow and Moray into level 3, what do the geniuses at Holyrood think is going to happen? In Bolton, where rates are four times higher than Glasgow, they remain in level two for a very good, sound and educated reason – the people of Bolton will not travel to areas in a higher level to eat, drink and be merry, they will stay in their area and keep any infections there. But our grand way forward is to raise levels and therefore encourage movement to Edinburgh, the Borders, to name but two, and cause further transmission.

It really is astonishing how limited these so called experts ability is. The continued use of “scariants” to impose these draconian measures is a travesty, (remember, Kent variant worse, South African variant worse, Brazilian variant much worse, and now the worst of all – Indian variant!) which leads to further mental health issues, not to mention the utter devastation to businesses across the country.

Sadly, those making these ridiculous decisions are completely unaffected by their actions, as employment, salary, pension etc, are under no threat – if they were made to forfeit six months’ salary we might see a change of direction from the continued trashing of the economy and what’s left of our society.

David Millar, West High Street, Lauder

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