Since the Tony Blair era, when UK taxpayer-funded medical salaries became some of the highest in Europe, far exceeding those of France or even Germany, the NHS has been in decline. There is now a generation of part-time general practitioners, with many opting for their now-affordable three day working weeks to enhance their "quality of life”.
This has provided a hit-and-miss part-time service at best, recently exacerbated by the Covid pandemic when GPs further distanced themselves from contact with patients, substituting a telephone service and working from home or behind locked surgery doors to keep patients out. Other much lesser paid public-facing key workers, such as police, carers, shop workers or public transport staff, in contrast, continued to work full time.
Now the long suffering tax-paying public are faced with an outrageous 30 per cent pay demand from our call-centre fixated, part-time GPs. Enough is enough. The only hope of reducing the continuing excessive death rate from this lack of service is reform.
We need a pragmatically based insurance service, akin to that of Germany, which delivers. Our politicians, perhaps with the help of Edinburgh’s financial community, must rise to this challenge and abandon the NHS and its outdated 1940s structures to modernise and restore the failing health of our communities and country.Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh
If, as expected, Nicola Sturgeon's quest for an indisputably legal referendum fails and, for the first time, she commits her movement into a general election that is, for her, explicitly and categorically a “de facto” referendum this should be a doddle for the pro-UK side.
Referendums are decided on total votes cast, not seats won, and even at “peak Sturgeon” in the 2015 General Election she only got 49.9 per cent of the vote, declining to 37 per cent in 2017 when the Tories campaigned an anti-indy ticket. It increased to 45 per cent in 2019 when the SNP hardly mentioned independence.
There are many advantages for the pro-UK parties if the issue is to be settled in a general election. There would be no confusion about whether to boycott an illegal plebiscite, no time wasted agreeing a common approach for Better Together 2; rather each party could focus on battering the SNP's 15 year record and half-baked currency, border, EU, NATO, pension debt, deficit and citizenship proposals with the arguments that best suit their election manifesto.
With such high stakes, all these parties and groups will again be very well funded. And even if Boris is still in power, the LibDems and Labour can upstage any SNP “blame Boris” stuff because they will be campaigning to actually replace him and his government without ripping the UK apart. The SNP won't know what's hit them.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven
The article entitled “CalMac hit by repairs storm” (26 June) contained a glaring error. CalMac would never fail in its legal responsibility to take each vessel out of service once a year for planned maintenance, despite what the article stated. Vessels must be certified as part of this annual work and it would not be legal to operate without this certification. Safety is always our primary concern and this annual overhaul period is of the utmost importance.
We are investing record sums in this annual planned maintenance programme, with the amount increasing by more than 67 per cent over five years to more than £34m in 2022.
Robbie Drummond, Managing Director, CalMac
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