Readers' letters: NHS no longer fit for purpose as medicine advances

The elephant in the room in discussions about the future of the NHS is a failure to recognise the success of medical research over the past 75 years.

The original concept never envisaged the remarkable progress achieved in common conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

Sadly the now understaffed, underfunded current NHS, with staff morale at an all-time low, is simply unable to deliver what is now enjoyed by many other European countries. Our poor survival rates attest to this.

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Surely the time has come to recognise that the model is no longer fit for purpose and radical change is necessary. There are many examples of countries that use a dual system of state-funded and compulsory insurance-funded healthcare. The non-profit making, means tested system in the Netherlands is a good example of a system that is effective, fair and affordable.

Is the NHS model established after the Second Word War no longer fit for purpose, as a reader suggests (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)Is the NHS model established after the Second Word War no longer fit for purpose, as a reader suggests (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Is the NHS model established after the Second Word War no longer fit for purpose, as a reader suggests (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Let’s be brave, separate the NHS from party political posturing and accept that radical rethinking is now essential.

​Professor John Smyth, Emeritus Professor of Medical Oncology & past President of the European Society of Medical Oncology, Edinburgh

Grasp the thistle

Thankfully the impending junior doctors’ strike in Scotland has been called off with an improved pay offer on the table which hopefully might be accepted, thus avoiding critical damage to health services.

However, this should not be viewed by the Scottish Government as a sticking plaster to keep an ailing health service going, but an opportunity to create a new blueprint for a reformed healthcare system which can fulfil the needs of a more demanding population.

Much can be learned from health experts and more successful healthcare systems around the world which could be utilised in modernising our health service, which should generally still be free at the point of need.

For once the Scottish Government has a chance to get ahead of other UK healthcare systems with a credible and sensible approach. All too often, ill-prepared initiatives launched in Scotland end in an embarrassing shambles.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirling

Local colour

What a fiasco over the colour of poor Miranda Dickson's front door in Edinburgh’s Drummond Place.

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It is quite apposite that the street is named after George Drummond, the ex-Lord Provost of Edinburgh who was integral in putting forward the motion to develop the New Town back in 1760. I’m sure he is reeling in Canongate Kirkyard over this petty issue.

Are not some of the more ancient edifices in the Old Town more extravagantly painted, notably Victoria Street?

Keith McLaren, St Andrews, Fife

Hard questions

I Share Jill Stephenson's thirst for answers to “hard questions” (Letters, 10 July). She dares to ask why the drug mortality rate in Scotland exceeds that of the remainder of the UK by at least a factor of three. She ponders if the slashing of rehab beds by SNP government explains this melancholy anomaly.

Thre is no doubt that societal reticence to invest heavily in residential rehab, in favour of the false economy of “harm reduction” and ineffective medical models delivered by the professional managerial classes, has caused great harm and despair.

However, there is one overriding determinant of this shameful situation reiterated by social scientists, namely the ever widening inequality in the disunited kingdom.The differential severity in mortality data she observes occurs in all western politics where regions and ethnic groups live in subsidiarity to centralised, self-serving and prioritising powers.

It so happens that the relative poverty and evaluative stress that the above engenders is indeed and has been greater in Scotland in recent decades.That is the hard answer to the hard question. For reasons too complex to tackle here addiction is emblematic of all colonised peoples. Yes, that colony word and concept again so resolutely denied in recent correspondence on these pages.

Westminster per se is not to blame but rather the Scottish people for trusting to naive politicians and a self-interested medical profession who pay lip service to the wider service user/recovery and family movement..

Dr Andrew Docherty, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Republican reality

John Brown (Letters, 10 July) suggests that the small number of republican protestors on the High Street last week indicates “a significant shift in mood in Scotland”. However, as I indicated last week, all those republicans who were interviewed by the BBC had English accents, so I, for one, am unconvinced as to any significant change in such sentiment in Scotland. Republicanism has always existed in the UK and did so in Queen Victoria’s day.

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Also, he mis-states the question of sovereignty in Scotland. The Scottish people are not sovereign. Since 1707, sovereignty has rested with Parliament in Westminster. There is no shared sovereignty with the people of Scotland, full stop. If he is in any doubt, he can check the Parliamentary website, which says: “Parliamentary sovereignty is a principle of the UK Constitution.”

The King, moreover, is the head of state. He is not just “the first among equals”. I think Mr Brown is confusing the King’s role in the UK Constitution with his position in the Scots Kirk.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Cloth ears

It passes understanding why the directors of some of our Scottish professional and sporting institutions can be so politically insensitive in the appointments they make.

First we had the National Trust, desperately trying to disentangle itself from its affair with Neil Oliver after its members’ reaction to the appointment.

Now we have the Scottish Rugby Union appointing Ruth Davidson, a politician put out to pasture in the Lords with no apparent connection with rugby other than a shirt and whose current employment is as “consultant”, which for most people means “cannot find a job”. What next: Farage for Scottish cricket?

Such cloth ears damage the intention of such organisations to broaden membership and do them no favours with those in Scotland, including many of their own members, whose political views differ so clearly from those whom a distinguished English player once called “blazered farts”.

James Scott, Edinburgh

Torrent of abuse

The SNP Westminster leader’s remarks regarding the departure of a nationalist MP before the next general election were most interesting. He claimed that Mhairi Black had been subjected to vile abuse and much of it was misogynistic. If that was the case my sympathies go out to the young woman; no-one should suffer have to suffer that.

However, Stephen Flynn’s remarks seemed to infer that this vile abuse was only suffered by nationalist representatives. May I assure him that is not the case. Admittedly it was some time ago, but I suffered some pretty horrific stuff myself and my miniscule-impact remarks were at levels far below that of an elected representative being paid an eye-watering salary and expenses.

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It was for writing a letter to a newspaper criticising the SNP. I can recall one critic’s line: “You should be beheaded facing up so you can see the blade coming.” It shook me inasmuch as I realised there were people out there in modern Scotland, walking our streets, who thought these kind of thoughts. Mr Flynn should perhaps have a long careful look at his own party’s supporters before laying into others.

At the time of that early abuse, I was half-hearted in my political views. What the torrent of abuse I received did was galvanise me into being as strong an advocate as I can possibly be against the advocates of nationalism in Scotland.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Taking the Mickey

Just when you thought the Tories could stoop no lower, it is reported that Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick had ordered staff at a reception centre for child refugees to paint over a Mickey Mouse mural, among others, because it was “too welcoming”.

The paintings had been done to give comfort to lone children, some as young as nine, who were absolutely terrified after arriving in the UK by small boats. The word “evil” can become over-used, but it is hard to describe these heartless actions as anything other than that.

The hostile environment has become so entrenched, that today we have lost sight of all humanity. One can only hope that the next election sees those seats coloured blue on the election map similarly painted over.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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