Readers' Letters: Javid’s ideas on future of NHS are worrying

It has been reported that Sajid Javid, the former UK Health Secretary, said that charging for GP and A&E visits is crucial for the continuation of NHS England.

Former UK health secretary Sajid Javid has suggested patients be charged for visiting GPs or A&E departments (Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP)
Former UK health secretary Sajid Javid has suggested patients be charged for visiting GPs or A&E departments (Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP)

He envisages a two-tier system where those who can pay for care, do so, and inevitably get the best and fastest care. That was what we suffered before the NHS gave everyone equally good treatment and medication.

Unless Scotland wants to return to the bad old days, those who now profess a desire to remain in the Union should consider well whether they are rich enough not to worry about having to pay for or insure themselves for the best treatment on offer.

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NHS Scotland may need to change the treatments presently available. We all accept that. However, having medical care available free to everyone is a service that I was proud to work for and happy to have available to me and my family and if NHS Scotland’s survival rests on becoming an independent country then I am all for it. To be subsumed by a two-tiered NHS England where the rich get good treatment that the poor can’t afford is a return to the bad old days.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

No intelligence?

The latest report from Holyrood’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee proposes a new Climate Intelligence Unit be established for Scotland to incentivise communities across Scotland by utilising the present cash-starved local government to deliver a carbon free energy future.Yet no politician – either at Holyrood or even Westminster, has produced the calculation as to how the UK, including Scotland, is going to finance and build enough electrical or hydrogen-driven power generation to service our entire domestic and commercial building stock, and transport networks, including millions of cars and commercial vehicles.There is also no apparent policy to identify and generate the funds to meet the additional multi-billion pound cost of replacing thousands of fossil-fuelled industrial boilers and boiler houses that service our industries, hospitals and community facilities with the much larger boilers needed for generating electricity.Rather than a new Climate Intelligence Committee, perhaps the Scottish Government needs a Financial Intelligence Committee to scrutinise its Net Zero energy policy proposals? This might deliver a realistic funding programme and timetable for an effective implementation – be it through the local authority network or otherwise.

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh

Burns not

I am grateful, as ever, to SNP MP Stewart McDonald, who writes, as ever, with little reference to fact at all; his party’s normal position (Perspective, 21 January). Mr McDonald quotes Robert Burns, hoping to make him sound like a Scottish nationalist. So, in the same spirit, let me quote the Scottish Bard: “Be Britain still to Britain true, Amang oursels united.”

That's pretty clear. As is: “I look upon the British Constitution to be the most glorious on earth, or that perhaps the wit of Man can frame”.

Mr McDonald is part of a group who cry out for “independence”, but who would simply hand over any powers they were granted in such an unlikely event to Brussels, as we all know, so I would advise him and the SNP to start talking honestly, for a change. Tell the people of Scotland that you want to be run by a faraway government in Brussels, which is ruled by unelected Commissioners and a parliament which has no power to make its own decisions. That is not independence; that is subservience. As Burns said: “The Nith shall run to Corsincon... Ere we permit a foreign foe On British ground to rally!”

Mr McDonald writes of “settling the constitutional question”. Where was he in 2014, when that very matter was emphatically decided and his own party agreed to honour and respect the outcome?

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Perhaps, as Mr McDonald attempted to do, I should conclude with Burns’s words again, about himself and the future. He says he has an “independent British mind” and writes of his children that they are “the little independent Britons, in whose veins runs my own blood”. A true Scottish and British patriot.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Going downhill

Just where is Nicola Sturgeon taking Scotland? Fifteen years of SNP power has not achieved glorious success, quite the opposite.

Undaunted, our First Minister is now forging ahead with deeply unpopular policies in the belief that she knows best. Just this weekend three of her MPs and one MSP stood “in solidarity” with a crowd in Glasgow, some of whom wanted anyone against the gender reforms to be killed, and Ms Sturgeon herself was on television mooting her idea of 16-year-olds being allowed in pubs despite the dreadful rate of alcoholism here.

This is on top of thoughts to allow this age group to stand for election to Holyrood The messaging is becoming more incoherent but the direction of travel is very clear: downhill all the way.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Scotland betrayed

With the Supreme Court’s ruling and the blocking of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) along with bypassing Holyrood with UK cash going directly to Green Freeports and levelling-up projects, chosen by Westminster, the UK is now systematically undermining the authority of the democratically elected Scottish Parliament. It seems Rishi Sunak’s government of “integrity and accountability” is falling apart as Westminster ignores devolved administrations.

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For example the GRA, after years of discussion and debate, was passed by 86 votes to 39 by MSPs from all parties at Holyrood. As a purely devolved matter this was a lawful Act. It is preposterous that the UK government should now disregard the Scottish right to make Scottish laws for the people of Scotland.

As the Tory and Unionist mantra has changed from “now is not the time” to “never” for Indyref 2, there is a growing realisation that the people of Scotland are trapped within a once mutually agreed Union. This certainly is not a “Union of Equals”, as only rampant English nationalism seems to function in an insular Brexit Britain.Scotland exists in a near bankrupt UK with food and fuel poverty, workers strikes in a cost of living crisis. Tory administrations, fantasising as global Britain, ignoring Europe with a Trident system they can’t afford, and aircraft carriers with no aircraft, more admirals than ships and which has followed the USA on doomed ventures into Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

In truth with the folly of Brexit, a deadly mismanaged pandemic and ruled by dysfunctional Tory governments, a future of low wages, unemployment and insecurity awaits Scotland. With little or no say in it all, this is not the UK that was promised to the people of Scotland in 2014.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Political pawns

Nicola Sturgeon's friend, Scottish culture secretary Shona Robison, joins her in claiming Westminster is undermining Scottish democracy with regard to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. Utter nonsense. Only the terminally naive would believe such a canny political operator as Sturgeon proceeded so far with this Bill without anticipating a resultant constitutional dispute with Westminster. It’s risible to suggest that Sturgeon, the rest of her cabinet, and the Scottish Civil Service didn’t realise the legislation they were attempting to enact was most likely at odds with existing UK law.

Sadly, Sturgeon has used the trans community in Scotland as pawns in her ceaseless constitutional warfare with Westminster. The trans community, already very sadly much discriminated against, deserves better from the SNP.

Martin Redfern, Melrose Roxburghshire

Grey days

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Your report on recording red squirrels omitted a recent outbreak of squirrel pox in the Borders as reported on BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors programme the same day (21 January).

While they are Scotland’s favourite mammal, the red squirrel is now endangered by squirrel pox from the invasive greys, immune to the pox and widely found south of the Highlands. Over recent years reds have become extinct in the Central Belt from Inverclyde to East Lothian. To the South, pockets hang on in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway but greys are becoming more prevalent.

In Ireland the greys have all but been eradicated in the Midlands, partly by introducing pine martens, and the more athletic reds, which evade martens, have largely returned in large numbers. This policy has not been pursued here, where the standard practice is to trap and shoot greys, something that is labour intensive and whose results are patchy. While records show reds still outnumber greys by about 2 to 1 across Scotland there is growing evidence to suggest that greys are becoming more dominant in the South of Scotland.

With squirrel pox becoming more widespread it is vital that more action is taken to eradicate greys. Pine Martens, widespread in the grey squirrel-free Highlands, should be returned to natural woodland, not plantations, where reds and greys coexist in the South to kill greys.

While volunteers at Saving Scotland’s Squirrels at Scottish Wildlife Trust have managed to largely contain greys, with squirrel pox now taking hold, a nature-led solution is required to save reds south of the Highlands.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Level pegging

I was sorry to hear that Edinburgh did not get any Levelling Up grants I had hoped they would have given us a Levelling Up grant for potholes in our streets and pavements.

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Alastair Paisley, Juniper Green, Edinburgh

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