Don’t make patients pawns in NHS dispute
Letter of the Week: Robert Cowan, Sandal, Wakefield
As the bitter dispute between junior doctors and the government rumbles on, we are left wondering where it is all going to end.
While Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has made it his mission to achieve a seven-day NHS service, prioritising increased hospital staffing at weekends because of fears of increased mortality rates, an independent study has shown that patients who attend A&E departments at this time do not in fact run a greater risk of dying.
Both Jeremy Hunt and the junior doctors claim to have patients’ well-being at heart but the stubborn stance taken on both sides is not only placing the health of many in jeopardy but bringing immense pressure to bear on a cash-strapped service which is already labouring under great strain, not least because of the increasing and ever-ageing population.
Jeremy Hunt’s unswerving determination to impose a new contract on junior hospital doctors does seem to exhibit on his part a provocative intransigeance which can be doing nothing at the present time to encourage doctor recruitment.
As for the junior doctors, their decision to embark on a series of five-day strikes in October, November, and December will impact severely on the NHS, creating enormous inconvenience for those on waiting lists. with large-scale cancellation or re-scheduling of appointments, not to mention prolonging physical pain of sufferers which might otherwise be relieved. It is also puzzling why their union, the British Medical Association, seemingly agreed to Hunt’s terms in May, only now to rail vociferously against them.
It is reprehensible that the victims of this now long-standing conflict and its ensuing industrial action are ordinary members of the public who are unfortunate enough to be beset with health problems. Nor should they become pawns in what has now become in effect a political dispute.
The inevitable, huge backlog of appointments created by strike action and the damage this will do to an already creaking NHS must surely be avoided at all costs.
A sensible solution is more likely to be found by both parties meeting around the table.
As Jeremy Hunt himself put it, “co-operation and dialogue” is the way forward.
Both sides should now do more to implement these words if any real progress is to be made.
No to grammar schools plan
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
I did wonder why Nicky Morgan was sacked from her Education brief in July, and now we know why… she is opposed to Theresa May’s plans for a new generation of selective grammar schools.
From 1944 onwards, our education system became a question of grammar or secondary modern, all decided by the 11-plus exam, which divided children into winners and losers even before they’d reached the age of puberty.
Grammar schools had three times more money spent on them, they had the best teachers and facilities, with a secure route to higher education.
This must have had a detrimental effect on the morale of surrounding schools.
Margaret Thatcher was a supporter of grammar schools but had recognised that the 11-plus had
probably lost the Tory party the 1964 general election and Bradford became the first English city to abolish selection at 11-plus for its maintained schools.
Grammar schools have increasingly become the preserve of the better-off and did not feature in the Conservative election manifesto.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are right to oppose these proposals.
History lesson is flawed
From: D Johnson, Mirfield
Can I thank John Appleyard for yet another history lesson?
I am sure other regulars like myself really appreciate his constant efforts to educate the readership.
Mr Appleyard also implied that the right to vote is under attack from this Conservative
government, his opinion based on three spurious pieces of evidence.
The first was that the government has made it harder to register to vote.
Having personally helped several people to register recently, I can tell you that it is a piece of cake and if it was to be any easier then we would end up with electoral fraud on a scale that would dwarf the present problems.
Secondly, he implies that it is the Tory government that is making boundary changes to favour themselves.
I am sure Mr Appleyard knows full well that any changes are brought forward by the Boundaries Commission for England, which is an independent organisation and has cross-party support.
Thirdly, he quotes a chap named Nick Clegg, who says that Cameron and Osborne opposed the building of council houses because if you move someone into one then they might change into a Labour voter. Yeah, right.
I would like to make it clear that I am not a Tory voter and have no time for the likes of Cameron and his cronies. But if someone has a point to make, let it be at least based on something more tangible.
Virgin should stick to trains
From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury
How many people travelling on the East Coast main line are shouting for joy now Virgin have put up the cost of tickets?
The franchise for the publicly-run service, returning a profit to the treasury, was given to a Virgin-Stagecoach partnership.
The franchise is subject to perverse Government incentives which mean that earlier this year one train full of passengers was delayed for eight hours as later trains overtook it while it sat, complete with a friend of mine, in a siding. Fortunately, none of the passengers were ill.
Imagine then, if Virgin Care took over children’s services in Kirklees. The company runs an increasing number of contracts for NHS Children’s Services in England.
How lucky we are that poorly and vulnerable children are not trains.
Is it rugby ... or a game of tig?
From: R Spreadbury, Liversedge
I was reading an article in The Guardian today (9/9/16) and I see some big girls’ blouses – no doubt spawned from our ’Elf and Safety Gone Mad culture, have again renewed their call for a ban on school rugby tackling (apparently endorsed by a panel of experts at a recent British science festival in Swansea).
They conclude that a ban on tackling would make the sport more “inclusive”.
Wouldn’t this then just be playing tig? We should be raising a nation of warriors, both male and female, not big girls’ blouses, both male and female.
I’m going out on a limb here but would doubt that bullying and beating up women formed part of the Samurai code of honour.
Also, perhaps we can learn a lesson from history: i.e., what happened to the decadent, gone-soft Roman Empire?
From: Pat Crisp, Batley
I would like to congratulute Kimberley Thirkill and her wonderful team on producing another brilliant Batley Festival and a fantastic evening show.
In the last five years the festival has gone from strength to strength. How can they better this one? Only time will tell.
You should all be very proud of yourselves.