Readers' letters: Obesity is the elephant in the room for national care service

Now that we have a new SNP cabinet with five years to attain Covid recovery, I hope they will start with fixing two key areas: Scotland's obesity crisis and the implementation of a National Care Service.

Obesity is a growing problem for national health care

Obesity and its related illnesses are known to have been a major cause of more severe Covid effects and death. Even Sir John Curtice strayed off his usual topic of polls and independence to underline this on BBC Debate Night recently.

Not one Scottish politician mentioned this topic, its impact on Covid, NHS resources, mental health or the economy during the recent election.

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They all preferred to queue up to support reforms of the care service as a priority.

But, just like former NHS head Derek Feeley in his Scottish government report on Adult Social Care Reform, they studiously avoided saying where the vast amounts of "investment", ie funding, is to come from.

The parties have also said they need work together on these issues. Well, the report is published, here's their chance. The brutal fact is, unless cuts are made elsewhere, Scotland's 2.5m income tax-payers, especially top rate payers, and people with decent savings and wealth, are going to have to pay more.

Previous proposals by the UK Conservative and Labour parties to inject some reality, including a government-backed insurance fund were strangled at birth by their opponents and labelled as "dementia" and "death" taxes respectively.

But the SNP are a socialist party, not dependent on middle class votes, and relevant ministers, Swinney (Covid Recovery) and Yousaf (Health) are experienced at driving through unpopular legislation such as Named Person and Hate Crime.

I wish them all the best in their battle with finance minister Kate Forbes, fellow and opposition MSPs and the media in their battle for a realistic, world beating care system for Scotland.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

Talking turbines

I was delighted to be able to attend the International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise which was held remotely last week.

Another wind farm neighbour and I gave a graphic description of living with wind turbines to an audience of acoustic consultants, medical experts, developers and government officials from around the world.

We were overwhelmed by the sympathetic response we received from all quarters and hope we have given them something to think about for the future, in particular the necessity to listen to residents closest to proposed or already existing wind farms, not those who receive no negative impact and whose opinions are driven solely by the lure of community benefit.

We were grateful to the Scottish government for sending a representative as concerns were raised throughout the conference about the current number of turbines in Scotland, not just operational but in the planning system and the associated difficulties of coping with the cumulative effects from both a visual and acoustic perspective.

We hope the lady concerned was listening carefully and taking detailed notes for her superiors because they need to know what effect their “stick em high, stick em low, stick em anywhere they please” policy is having on rural residents in this country and how this is viewed by the rest of the world.

Aileen Jackson

Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire

BBC furore

I have always had a great affinity with the BBC - my father being one of the initial employees when it opened in Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow.

As a family, we spent many hours listening for the third pip and the start of ‘The News’. However, even my loyalty has snapped.

I 'forgave' the debacle at the time of Jimmy Savile and others - anyone can make a mistake misjudgment.

I felt aggrieved at the furore over the licence fee for pensioners when I thought of the 'excessive' salaries paid to presenters who seemed self and apparently career-centred, increasingly interpreting 'news' as being introduced by 'should', 'could', ‘perhaps', maybe'; without the whole issue of fake news.

I was angry that news seemed to be 'valued' on its presentation interest rather than real news value – where has the plight of Yemen gone; the pandemic in India; the 'sniper alleys' of Syria?

I struggle with the triteness associated with the former 'Great BBC of Lord Reith', but enough is surely enough with the Princess Diana revelations.

Senior figures can't 'lie' about the existence of documents, re-hire without very close and detailed examination without consequence.

The time has surely come to let the BBC stand on its own feet, without subsidy and judged by its ability to attract funding. This is the ultimate accountability - as failure to attract viewers would lead to loss of income and demise.

James Watson

Randolph Crescent, Dunbar

Federal future

John Henderson’s letter (Scotsman, May 21) proposing a federal system for the UK raises an issue that should have been at the core when devolution was first proposed.

Instead, the UK has a half-baked system, with an unbalanced distribution of powers.

Writing as an ex-pat Scot from Canada, we have a federal system that allows regional differences to be acknowledged, accommodated, and a pride in ones home province and also particularly in the federation of Canada as a whole. Australia is similar.

At this critical time, the ‘Act of Union Bill’ put forward by the Welsh Lord Lisvane should be moved forward as quickly as possible.

Establishing an English parliament, physically different and away from Westminster is fundamental. The British parliament and the English parliament have to be seen to be different.

There may be and argument for regional parliaments in England (and possibly Scotland) to break up the Anglo-centric nature of the UK, but a separate English parliament at the very least.

It would be a tragedy and ironic, that the nation that essentially on its own defended European democracy just over 80 years ago, should be broken up by home grown nationalism.

Every country in Europe, including those that fought against, and those that stood by and watched, owes their democratic existence today to the UK.

No, the UK did not win the war, but it prevented it from being lost and Europe from being possibly permanently subjugated.

After 400 years, the Union no doubt needs repair, if not rebuilding. That is why the Act of Union Bill needs to progress to provide a meaningful alternative to separatism and a more balanced distribution of power within the UK.

David A Clark

Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada

Care home facts

Latest figures reveal that 3310 people have died from Covid-19 in Scottish care homes or 43% of the total (7664) (Scotsman, 21 May).

Despite scurrilous attempts to blame hundreds of care homes for these deaths, this has been a government failure. When added to the hospital-acquired infections caused by mingling infectious people in cancer and other wards, this accounts for a significant majority of all the deaths.

The government has admitted mistakes were made but has not been held to account.

Ignorance and incompetence in the Department of Health are not excuses when other countries of a comparable size to Scotland had the knowledge and did not make the same mistakes

John McIntosh

Orchard Road, Edinburgh

Electric vehicles

A recent survey by the energy regulator Ofgem shows clearly that, while the British public considers electric vehicles as a possibility, the reality is that they are not currently interested in buying them.

There are quite a number of problems, other than financial, that the ‘man-in-the-street’ has spotted and which the vehicle manufacturers seem to overlook.

Lack of public charging points is one major issue, as is the range available to electric vehicles. Few people realise that the use of car heating in winter, along with increased wiper and light usage will considerably deplete the already meagre mileage range.

Regarding home-based charging points.... The general 60 amp domestic power-rating has to be raised to 100 amp rating and such a change is both costly and somewhat inconvenient as it depends on the entry point of the main cable to the building and its distance from the cabling in the street outside.

Another ‘hidden charge’ is the possibility of the enormous cost of a replacement battery. This week I have seen photographs of about 50 small electric cars which were initially purchased by the City Council of Paris, and which now lie in a specially restricted dump in France because all their batteries have failed and, the cost of replacement batteries has turned out to be dearer than the value of the vehicles themselves!

The ‘scrapyard’ is off limits because of the toxic ingredients leaking from those batteries! That’s why the old adage, “Caveat emptor” (buyer beware) must surely apply when buying an electric vehicle!

Archibald A Lawrie

Kingskettle, Fife

Rail full circle

The establishment of Great British Railways due in 2023 will mean that the railway system has almost come full circle from the heady days of full nationalisation.

The new body will take over Network Rail, give contracts to companies to run trains, set fares and timetables and sell tickets. The railways are certainly the transport system of today and tomorrow

Britain's railways have been fighting the private/public sectors war since the days of Margaret Thatcher, and this new organisation should go a long way to provide an efficient and economic railway which benefits passengers and gets them to the church on time.

James Macintyre

Clarendon Road, Linlithgow

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