Readers' Letters: SNP fiddling while Scottish NHS burns

John Swinney must have had to go and lie down after his contribution in Holyrood yesterday. All that spinning must have made him positively dizzy. In the statement on government priorities, he said (and I quote) “health and care services are only one aspect of how the 100 days commitments materially improve the lives of the Scottish people”.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney pictured earlier this year (Picture: Fraser Bremner-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Deputy First Minister John Swinney pictured earlier this year (Picture: Fraser Bremner-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

What on earth could this 100-day commitment be? Had he opened all hospitals up to start surgery again? Had he uncovered previously unknown staff who could help with the crisis? Had he opened a college to focus on nursing and get more staff on our wards? Oh, if only.

No the commitment that will materially improve our lives is apparently the launch of a consultation. Talking shops do not make the slightest bit of difference to our lives. While we have half a million Scots on the NHS waiting lists and we are being told not to go to hospital unless our life is in danger. And to top it all, our Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, has decided to self isolate even though he had not been told that it was necessary.

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The SNP are not only fiddling while the Scottish NHS burns and our citizens do not get the service they deserve, they have dug out the bagpipes, the ukulele and invited a choir to join them.

Jane Lax, Aberlour

Rest easy, Geronimo

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel sadness for the doomed alpaca called Geronimo, who was dragged to his death by police officers after he tested positive for bovine tuberculosis or bTB (“Alpaca euthanised after testing positive for bovine tuberculosis”, 31 August). Only a post-mortem examination will confirm if he did have the disease – too late for him and his distraught owner Helen MacDonald, who had fought for years to save him.

Ms MacDonald had previously said that, were he given a valid test which confirmed that he had the disease, she would have killed him herself. That’s understandable, since she knew how traumatic the experience would be for her beloved pet to be taken away by masked strangers.

Though there are perfectly valid reasons for culling animals that have tested positive for bTB, that doesn’t obviate the emotional devastation experienced by Ms MacDonald. We’ve come a long way from our hunter-gatherer past, but the origins of human tuberculosis have been traced back to hunter-gatherer groups in Africa 70,000 years ago. Scientists believe that it was humans who passed the disease on to animals, not the other way round. If so, we owe Geronimo, and other victims of bTB, an apology.

Carolyn Taylor, Dundee

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Geronimo killed: Alpaca "euthanised" after testing positive for bovine tuberculo...

A poor death

The very bleak statistics uncovered in the recent report by National Records of Scotland will be shocking to some but, sadly, the gap between the wealthy and disadvantaged is something we continue to see impact people right up until the end of life ("Death rate in Scotland's most deprived areas nearly double that of affluent communities”, 31 August).

The report highlights that not only do people in the most deprived communities die younger, but they also receive far fewer healthier years, leading to many years with chronic and long-term conditions. The knock on effect of this is that they are likely to need palliative care earlier, at a younger age, and for longer.

We know, however, people in the most deprived communities are less likely to access the care and support they need at the end of life. For those living in poverty, a terminal illness can bring with it a significant increase in cost of living, but not necessarily the means to meet those costs, further exacerbating their poor health and outcomes.

Not only do we need to see the Government focusing on the fundamental causes of inequity and poverty and improve health outcomes for all, we also need to ensure that those living and dying in poverty now get the care and support they need. For those struggling financially when ill, quick access to benefits is essential and it must be at a level sufficient to meet their costs. A good end of life experience should not be dependent on where you live, or what money you have in the bank.

Richard Meade, Head of Policy, Scotland, Marie Curie

Powerful future

In a couple of months all your readers might reasonably be concerned by the prospect of the COP 26 United Nations conference in Glasgow. At long last our press and media has been making reference to it and the threats to our environment, not just the prestige of hosting this event of worldwide importance.

While I don't believe there is a short term technical fix for the global problem of climate change, the Scottish Government could do a lot more to actively address our emergency.

Part of a positive solution will be making the much more electricity that is necessary available.

Years ago, when dams were installed in Scotland for generating hydroelectric power, we were given a hint about what was possible. Now we need much more to get rid of coal, gas and oil as well as nuclear power sources. Every contribution from Photovoltaic solar panels, tidal and wind turbines needs to be welcomed as well.

We also need to recruit thousands of workers to not only build new generators and insulation but the huge new electric grid that this emergency requires.

Any oil workers worried about jobs if we abandon the fatally stupid development of the new oil field Cambo will be urgently employed if Scotland is going to start contributing to the solution instead of being part of the problem for continued existence.

For much of my positive attitude I recommend our politicians, frustrated workers and our correctly frightened next generation should read Jonathan Neale's book Fight the Fire: Green new deals and global climate jobs.

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen, Dumfriesshire

Electric dreams

In a recent study of charging points from north of Shetland to Gretna Green a minimum of 118,000 charging points are the least number to allow electric vehicle drivers to feel comfortable with embarking on journeys where they are not to be compromised by a lack of charging facilities.

The green zealots are not worried about this as they are all on bicycles or an inefficient form of public transport as it is, but they do go to great lengths to sell their electrical dream. The other point about going green is that after a motive battery has expired it will end up in a landfill site since it is too toxic and expensive time-wise to dismantle it and retrieve the components, which have probably been mined in some third world country, using near slave labour.

A recent survey of charging points found that only one third of them were operational. If you think that this SNP/Green government can provide 118,000 charge points by 2030, look at their failed track record in Education, NHS, Policing, drugs rehab, housing, social work and a woeful roads building programme, to name but a few.

Another component of this conundrum is the fact that thousands of fossil-fuelled cars will still be on the road. So what will an SNP/Green combo do with them? Simple, escalate the fuel tax this side of the border and an additional road tax, to the degree that they are no longer economical to keep on the road, then there is the fact that fossil fuel stations will close through not being viable.

These are the things the Marxist zealots and their SNP masters will not tell you just now in case they scare the horses (perhaps the only form of transport available afterwards will be horses). At least they don't produce vast quantities of methane.

Alexander Sutherland, Aberdeen

Envying Ireland

Martin O’Gorman’s derogatory remarks about the Republic of Ireland (Letters, 2 September) ignores the positive progress Ireland has made since joining the EU or that Ireland ranks second in the world, behind Norway, in the latest United Nations Human Development Index which measures health and welfare. Its GDP per head is double that of the UK, based on IMF estimates.

Prior to joining the EU, 74 per cent of Ireland’s exports went to the UK; now the figure is only 12 per cent but worth £30 billion. Since Brexit thousands of financial services jobs and billions in fund management have left London for Dublin. Also, there are now almost 40 weekly direct sailings between Ireland and France.

Ireland pays a higher state pension and welfare benefits than in the UK and its population is rapidly growing, fuelled by young EU workers who find a more welcoming environment than in Brexit Britain.

As for cronyism and corruption, Ireland is no match for the current UK government when it comes to the awarding of Covid contracts or appointments to the House of Lords for Tory donors and relatives. Like Scotland, Ireland has fewer Covid cases and deaths and a higher vaccination rate per head than England.

In contrast with the isolated UK, Ireland currently provides the EU Commissioner for Financial Services, Stability and Capital Markets as well as Chief Economist at European Central Bank.

There are just a few of the things Scotland can aspire to as a self-governing nation.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

London lesson

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was, correctly, held to account for his actions or lack of actions in connection with the Afghanistan crisis. The inquisition was carried out by MPs of all parties, including his own Conservative MPs. When will we see Nicola Sturgeon and her “ministers” being held to account by their own MPs and MSPs for their many errors of judgement – or is it against SNP rules to question the hierarchy?

It seems the UK Government can teach the SNP regime a thing or two.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

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