This statement seems an unfair and unsubstantiated polemic against both general practice staff and pharmacists. My own and my family’s experience of general practitioners and pharmacists is that they have been working extremely hard during the pandemic and have gone out of their way to be helpful on the occasions when we have had to contact them. I am also aware that many primary care staff are subject to abuse and intimidation in the course of their work when they are already struggling to cope with a chronically underfunded NHS and now the extra pressures of Covid and the Omicron variant.
During the pandemic, general practitioners are following specific guidelines and protocols (as are all NHS staff) to protect themselves, their staff and their patients. To expect GPs to cope with additional Covid and flu vaccinations at the present time is completely unrealistic from a logistical and public health perspective.
I cannot identify with the statement about repeat prescription users being “coerced into allowing their local pharmacists to handle their medication”. In my experience there has been no change in the repeat prescription system during the pandemic and certainly no evidence of more expensive drugs being prescribed.
GP bashing seems to be a popular pastime during the Covid pandemic. Perhaps, instead of having a rant at particular elements of our over-worked and underfunded NHS, the letter writer might consider how we as a society can put pressure on our respective governments in the UK to provide much needed extra staffing, resources and funding for the NHS. His suggestion of a wholesale reassessment and redeployment of our health service resources seems to me like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
(Dr) John Gibson, Edinburgh
Road to recovery
In 2022, the highest priority for government must be a national economic recovery plan. Over 50,000 people die of sepsis in the UK each year, and typically at least 10,000 of the flu, but the rest of us are allowed to get on with our lives. It must be so with Covid.
The government must be honest with us about the terrible state of the economy, and why economic recovery must be the priority. Ministers must explain that after nearly half a trillion pounds (ie a five followed by eleven zeros) added to the national debt, with a shrunken economy and worrying high inflation, we can no longer afford to prioritise Covid over the economy.
We must recognise that we cannot tax our way to prosperity but must look to reduce public expenditure to control inflation and limit the national debt.
I very much doubt that the Prime Minister and the First Minister are up to the challenge. Both prioritise popularity over prudence and making necessary decisions. As we know from the past, any delay in controlling public expenditure and inflation will inevitably mean that the eventual correction will be far harder.
Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife
Earlier this week, I walked up Calton Hill in Edinburgh. I hadn't been there since I was a boy and I was looking forward to seeing the monuments, and of course the splendid view. The top of the hill did not disappoint, on a clear blustery day the view was wonderful, and was also being enjoyed by several dozens of people, many of them visitors from other countries. It was a great place to show off our country and capital.
Yet one thing really annoyed me, and left a lasting, disappointing memory. The paths and grass were littered with rubbish: glass, bottles, plastic, take-away cartons etc. In addition, the steps up were choked with wet leaves, which was a serious safety hazard. I felt ashamed, especially if that's also what so many visitors see.
I reckon it would take one person less than half a day to clean it all up. If Edinburgh doesn't have the will or the finance to do that, it's a very sad day. Did I come down the hill proud of our capital? Sadly, no. "Embarrassed” would be a more accurate description.
DJ Graham, North Berwick, East Lothian
In her latest paean to the Scottish Government, Mary Thomas proudly trumpets that Scotland is able to provide £8,600 in Covid support per business compared to the £8,000 that applies in England (Letters, 30 December).
This is of course due to the Barnett formula which ensures Scotland receives a higher level of public expenditure pro rota than fellow Britons south of the border, and I am grateful to Ms Thomas for highlighting this particular perk – just one of the many benefits of being part of the UK family of nations.
Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife
First things first
“Ferry fleet 'left to rust' as cost of repairs soar” (Scotsman, 30 December). “BMA chairman has urged the Scottish Government to enforce 'a proper plan' to reverse the shortage of doctors” (Scotsman, 29 December). And despite the much trumpeted Green/SNP coalition, Scotland is ranked lowest in the UK for household waste recycling, behind even despised Tory England.
What a pity that our patriot administration prioritises more pressing issues such as gender recognition and rehabilitating deid witches.
Martin O'Gorman, Edinburgh
If you had a friend whose earnings went into their partner’s account, would you be surprised? If that friend was given “housekeeping” money out of that account, but had to beg for extra when there was an emergency, what would you say? If that request was refused, leaving the friend facing impossible choices, surely you would advise, “leave the relationship, you will do better on your own”.
That is the choice that faces Scotland. It cannot borrow, and so has perfected the art of breaking even in normal times. In an emergency like a pandemic, it has to appeal to the UK government for aid, and unless it suits, those pleas fall on deaf ears.
Ritual financial humiliation is a definition of coercive control. The expert advice is to leave an abusive union before the damage cannot be repaired, mentally or physically. It is time for Scotland to go.
Frances Scott, Edinburgh
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