SHOULD the interests of the few override the interests of the many? That seems to be the knee-jerk reaction of Nicola Sturgeon from her statement which you quote as your main headline today (“PM fuelling pay disputes with anti-strike laws, says Sturgeon”, The Herald, January 13).
To anyone who cares to read it, the bill provides that in the essential services it lists, no more than those persons reasonably necessary to provide a minimum service level will do so. The holding of any strike itself is not banned or somehow adversely affected, so why misrepresent it as “anti-strike” other than to fuel her grievance obsession with anything which comes out of Westminster?
Surely in her role as First Minister she has the responsibility to do all she can to ensure the availability of essential services for those who really need them whenever they need to access them?
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.
NURSES ISSUE EASY TO RESOLVE
IN addition to the Tories’ characteristic meanness of spirit, you have to add economic ignorance. According to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, no money is available to meet an additional pay offer to nurses. However, money is readily available for failing pension funds, failing banks and failing energy companies.
The nurses’ pay demands could easily be settled in full at no cost to the Treasury. For a start, about 40 per cent of any pay increase comes straight back in additional tax and National Insurance contributions. Then when the nurses spend their increase the recipients are taxed on what they receive, as will the next net recipient, with ever-growing returns to the Government; a stimulus to the economy and a boost to the NHS.
John Moreland, Killearn.
TAKE STEPS TO AXE POVERTY WAGES
THE latest wheeze from Rishi Sunak is to encourage people to enter the labour force by allowing them to retain certain benefits even when in full-time work. This would allow employers to keep them on poverty wages, subsidised by other taxpayers in the same way as so many other poverty-wage earners whose pay is below the tax threshold.
Why not eliminate poverty wages and progressively remove tax bands and personal allowances so that all earned income is taxed at a flat rate in the same way as expenditure and we can all have “broad shoulders”?
Unionist parties are united in denial that the prime cause of labour shortages in key industries is Brexit. Peter A Russell (Letters, January 13) tells us that, as a democrat, he reluctantly accepts the referendum result that took us out of the EU. He clearly does not recognise the existence of our Sottish nation which voted overwhelmingly against Brexit. We are on a path towards a future redolent of pre-revolution Russia with a ruling class and a servile peasant class.
Willie Maclean, Milngavie.
LET REFUGEES HELP CARE HOMES
HUMZA Yousaf’s proposal to alleviate the bed blocking crisis (“Extra £8m for care beds to ease winter crisis in NHS”, The Herald, January 11) is facing the difficulty of attracting enough staff because of the low wages on offer.
However, the Scottish Government could make a proposal to the Home Office to take on and train up refugees to fill the vacancies in some of Scotland’s care homes.
I’m sure most refugees would be glad to have a worthwhile job earning a wage (low though it is) rather than staying trapped for ages in the failed Home Office system while their asylum applications are being processed.
It would be a win-win situation for the Scottish Government.
If the proposal were accepted by the UK Government, there would be a workforce to fill the vacancies in care homes and alleviate the bed blocking. If the Westminster Tories were to refuse, it would be clear to everyone that they prioritise their xenophobia concerning refugees over the needs of old people and the NHS.
John Dennis, Dumfries.
PUT MONEY INTO CARERS’ WAGES
IT is indeed good news that the Scottish Government is going to finance the provision of so many care home places to ensure that patients who are medically fit for discharge from hospital can be safely accommodated in a care home.
Two questions come immediately to mind. First, where are all these empty care home beds? And secondly, where are the staff to give the special care and attention that vulnerable people will undoubtedly require?
Sadly, I feel sure that as long as care workers are paid the minimum wage of £9.50 an hour there will continue to be a severe shortage of people prepared to work for such shockingly low rates. Why would anyone want to work for that kind of return when a job as a checkout assistant would pay considerably more?
The millions the Government is promising to put into social care would be better spent in insuring a decent wage for an increasingly important job. Then we might get the numbers of carers we need to cater for our ever-expanding elderly population.
Celia Judge, Ayr.
THIRD OPTION ON HEALTHCARE
THE First Minister states that she has “never” used private healthcare. I wonder if she includes dentistry in her definition of healthcare; many do not, which helps explain meek acceptance of two-tier dentistry. The First Minister’s denial would be more convincing if accompanied by the phrase “and I never shall”. An eloquent omission; also bold because nobody knows what will be their future state of health – but the conclusion is guaranteed.
The First Minister has the third option in what is really a three-tier service; that is those with connections and influence can use NHS resources without queuing and without charge. This third option is superior to private healthcare, which is expensive. Now we wait to discover who will own up to using the third option. If nobody owns up, that does not mean that such events did not occur.
Politicians have connections and influence, as do others.
Dr William Durward, Bearsden.
EXEMPLARY CARE FROM OUR NHS
I AM 67 and for the past 35 years, I have been on the receiving end of our NHS for various reasons – more than my fair share, I am sure. My treatments on the whole have been exemplary, and I have so often counted my blessings that I live in a country where we have an NHS free at the point of need. In November I had an ankle replacement operation at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, again excellent treatment, but unfortunately I developed a wound infection. I personally took the initiative and contacted our community district nurses based in Callander, and I cannot rate highly enough the excellent professional care I received from them. GP home visits appear to be a thing from my past which no longer happen – but for the past nine weeks, the exemplary service provided to me in my own home by local nurses from Killin, Crianlarich, Callander and Strathyre has more than filled that void.
I would love to think that in years to come, people, regardless of their financial means, will be able to receive as much quality care as I have. Good health is a life essential, and our governments need to wake up, appreciate the dedication of our National Health Service employees, and pay nurses, carers and ambulance personnel a decent wage rather than take advantage of their vocation.
Linda FitzGerald, Killin, Perthshire.
SMALL CUTS THAT HIT HARD
ABOUT 15 years ago I was involved in trying to save our county hospital. I was assured that the bed capacity was surplus to requirements even allowing for a projected increasingly-aged population and for seasonal demands.
Likewise, the change of use of a single room on a ward for administration would not impact on bed usage remaining below the recommended 85 per cent. I wonder what a Freedom of Information inquiry would reveal across the country regarding the number of beds lost through closing small local hospitals and re-allocating single bed units to administration?
James Watson, Dunbar.
UNIVERSITY STANCE IS A DISGRACE
IT was with incredulity that I read about the issues raised at First Minister’s Questions around Scottish university entrance places (“Sturgeon shock at claim on students from deprived backgrounds”, The Herald, January 13). The First Minister felt it was “good news” that Edinburgh University accepted no students from non-deprived areas from Scotland across nine courses including the prestigious law degree course.
What an utterly shameful comment from the First Minster, who seems perfectly happy that, in effect, she is supportive of “negative” discrimination against a certain section of Scottish pupils. The university too should be ashamed as it endeavours to hide behind the fact of trying to “narrow the eduction gap”. In reality, the university wants students from overseas and the rest of the UK who will stump up around £25,000 per annum for the privilege of attending the university.
The First Minster and her disastrous oversight of Scottish education is driving Scottish students south of the Border as a result of no tuition fees in Scotland for Scottish students and consequently far fewer places at Scottish universities. Her policy is reprehensible and those students who have been affected would do well to remember this at the ballot box.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.
I WAS surprised and delighted to see your photo of the RG Lawrie shop (“Remember when…”, The Herald, January 12) as it’s a subject very close to my heart. This was my family business with my father, Arthur Lawrie, grandson of RG Lawrie, managing director of the shops in Glasgow and the bagpipe factory in Castlemilk when I was growing up.
However, your photo is not the original shop in Renfield Street, but it is the other one in Buchanan Street.
Sadly, the business is no more but Lawrie bagpipes are still held in high regard by pipers worldwide.
Fiona Love (née Lawrie), Eaglesham.
PICTURE OF HAPPINESS
I COULDN’T have asked for a better start to my day (February 13). As always, I headed to the centre pages of the Herald. There I saw another masterpiece of nature photography from reader Jacki Gordon and your cartoonist Steven Camley in top form with his latest cartoon. Set me up nicely before going on to read the doomsayers on the Letters Pages.
Gordon Evans, Glasgow.
Read more: What will happen now to the poor souls on care home waiting lists?