Readers' letters: Unionist parties in denial over plight of NHS

Many who support the Conservative and Labour unionist parties in rejecting the mandate of the Scottish Government to hold an independence referendum are not only denying democracy but seem to be in denial full stop.

While disingenuously, if not hypocritically, the leaders of the Scottish branches of these parties repeatedly call for the resignation of the Health Minister, they remain silent on the performance of those in charge in England and Wales where the NHS is under even greater strain.

The significant under-investment in the NHS across the UK for more than a decade has been the calamitous result of “big decisions” made at Westminster, where a catalogue of misguided government choices have also caused a further widening of the wealth gap and the proliferation of food banks (both indicators of increasing poverty, leading to even more pressures on the NHS).

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Most agree the NHS needs substantial reform to produce an effectively integrated health and care service “free at the point of use”, but without independent government in Scotland the NHS across the whole of the UK will continue to slide into the US-style two-tier system favoured by the wealthy backers of the Tory Party.

Readers have differing opinions about the ongoing crisis in the NHSReaders have differing opinions about the ongoing crisis in the NHS
Readers have differing opinions about the ongoing crisis in the NHS

Regrettably, a Labour government at Westminster will not prevent this division, it will simply seek to delay what the leaders of that party apparently believe is inevitable. Anas Sarwar, in continuing to side with Douglas Ross in persistently calling for the resignation of Humza Yousaf, promotes the distraction that confirms that the Labour Party also has no plausible long-term alternative to the devastating partition of healthcare in Scotland together with the rest of the UK.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

The toll of flu

Hospitals in Scotland are at bursting point mainly because of a lack of beds for new patients. This is no doubt linked to the fact that the SNP in their usual lack of planning and wisdom cut the numbers of available beds a few years ago. It is also becoming nigh on impossible to see a GP, hence the number of people heading to A&E.

One thing that puzzles me is the number of people in hospital with flu. I will not deny that some flu victims, especially the elderly, need hospital care but over the years this has developed from a necessity to a accepted fact. It used to be the case that having flu meant staying indoors and self-treating until the symptoms abated. Is flu more serious nowadays or are we just going a wee bit soft?

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Fife

Thank the Tories

Scottish opposition parties call for the head of Scottish Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, while offering no solution to the winter challenges in our NHS.

The current challenges our health service is experiencing are not confined to Scotland – all governments including Westminster and the devolved government of Wales are experiencing challenges, so can we exercise the same call to the incumbents of the health services in England and Wales?

Here in Scotland the Scottish Government under the First Minister has held “resilience meetings” in 2023 in an effort to address the challenges in our NHS. Meetings have also taken place with nursing unions and the offer currently on the table is the best offer anywhere in the UK. It is worth mentioning that nurses in Scotland are currently the best paid in the UK.

But we have still heard no constructive solutions from the opposition in Scotland, who only offer criticism. And what is this continual criticism doing to the morale of the hard-pressed NHS staff? Some of the issues affecting our NHS are a result of Brexit (something Scotland did not vote for) with the shortages in the workforce and this can only be addressed by Scotland rejoining the EU. Meantime, we have the Conservatives to thank for this.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk

No salvation

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Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters,10 January) clearly blames “Westminster” for the current NHS woes in Scotland, and says that salvation can only achieved by independence.

But this is like blaming the Church of England for the decline of the Church of Scotland. The Scottish Government can spend its budget any way it likes, with Westminster exerting no control over health expenditure whatsoever.

The religious analogy is very appropriate. Not only is the NHS sacred, but so is independence, with those having faith in it believing that through mysteries yet to be revealed it will deliver us from evil and cure all our ills. I declare an interest. I am an atheist.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Sunak’s secret?

Rishi Sunak won’t say whether he and his family use private healthcare – they do – and that it’s “not appropriate” to talk about it – it is.

In November 2022 the Guardian reported that Mr Sunak is registered with a private GP practice that charges £250 for a half-hour visit, offers appointments in the evenings and at weekends, charges £400 for home visits, £150 for an email of phone consultation, and £80 for prescriptions.

Dr John Puntis, co-chair of Keep our NHS Public, said using private health care is the norm for the rich and powerful and that “those making decisions about vital public services are often least likely to use them, which of course reinforces their ideological animosity”.

If our so-called public servants were required to use public services like the people they purportedly serve, then you can be sure these services would be adequately funded.

The UK Government doesn’t believe in well-run and funded public services. This alone is a compelling reason for Scotland to restore its sovereignty.

Jackie Oudney, Edinburgh

Reality check

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The current generation of employees in public services seem not to understand the definition of the word “service” to the general public.

I know times are tight financially. I am a pensioner myself trying to live on a fixed income with no possibility to achieve anything like a ten per cent-plus increase.

In particular, I think it is disgraceful that our primary and secondary school teachers are withdrawing their labour with no regard for the effects on children and their working parents. Selfishness personified, I'm afraid.

Our entire public service infrastructure needs an urgent reality check.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Filthy habit

The sale of cigarettes could be phased out under Labour proposals to improve public health and ease the pressure on the NHS (Scotsman, 9 January).

At present the 80 per cent tax, which costs the average smoker £1,000 per year, does not seem to deter smokers so the only sure way is either to ban cigarettes or quickly phase them out by doubling or even trebling the tax. The same should be done for vapes since they lead to addiction.

Those who smoke or vape have no concern for others as they stand outside pubs and restaurants blowing out toxic smoke and then throw away their butts and vapes so we should have no consideration for them.

Clark Cross,, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Car stickers

I occasionally see on rear car windows and bumpers the sticker that says “Yes” but never a vehicle with “No” prominent.

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Is this because those not in favour of independence leave their concern for the well-being of Scotland to be ultimately delivered at the ballot box, or is it concern that showing their allegiance to the Union could cause damage to the vehicle by dissent?

John Brown, Edinburgh

Loser’s consent

I thought that Stewart McDonald made a very sensible comment in his column (Scotsman, 7 January) that for any referendum to work there has to be “loser’s consent”.

We have seen the repercussions when this doesn’t exist in our own 2014 referendum and the Brexit referendum not to say the last US Presidential election and the current situation in Brazil.

With regard to any future referendum in Scotland this could be achieved by requiring a two-thirds majority for a successful outcome, so why doesn’t the SNP propose this?

With respect to his comment about the 2021 election, notwithstanding what the SNP may have said in their manifesto. Nicola Sturgeon’s mantra was that a vote for the SNP was not a vote for independence.

W B Elliot, Dalkeith, Midlothian

Voting puzzle

A new poll shows that Scots would, by a strong margin (59:41), prefer to remain in the UK. It also shows that around 60 per cent of respondents think that the SNP/Green administration is performing badly in most of the important devolved areas: NHS, economy, education, trains, ferries, social care.

The poll also reveals that 44 per cent of respondents would vote SNP in either a Westminster or a Holyrood election. This is puzzling. How can clear majorities of dissatisfaction with a party’s record in government be rewarded with substantial support at elections? How can they vote for that party when 54 per cent oppose the turning of a general election into a “de facto referendum”, which is the SNP’s stated policy?

When secession is, effectively, the SNP’s only policy – witness the “debate” on it given pride of place on the Holyrood agenda for the new term – why, when there are so many much more important issues to contend with, do 44 per cent of voters still say they would vote SNP? It really is bizarre.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

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