Politics

Letters: Help me, I do not want my daughter to watch me begging to die

I WAS upset to read that church leaders and faith groups are asking MSPs to reject the Assisted Dying Bill (“Moderator: Kirk is opposed to LibDem’s Assisted Dying Bill”, The Herald, January 5).

I am terminally ill and I want to live but this choice has been taken away. I do, however, want the choice of how I die. My gran, mum, dad and brother have all died with cancer. My dad took more than a week of agony to pass. Why would you let a loved one die in agony if it can be prevented?

I do not want my daughter to watch me in agony begging to die. I will not put my family through this. Why would any human let another human go through this if you can prevent it? We must have a choice. There are many safety measures that will be in place. It will be impossible to “kill” anyone. This law is being put into place all over the world. It’s now our chance.

Even if you think you are someone would never use this choice, let it pass so that people who do want it, can. We are being forced to go abroad and pay a lot of money to die when we choose. The other option is suicide and sadly this does not always work. People end up doing horrific things to end their suffering.

Please, people of faith, have some compassion for those of us who are the ones faced with this. We need choice. I want to die at a time I choose with my family around me.

You can help me do this.

Norma Rivers, Ayr.

WE NEED HONESTY OVER THE NHS

LEAH Gunn Barrett argues for Scottish independence, but in using the NHS as a political chew-toy has misrepresented a real crisis in health care (“There is no shortage”, Letters, December 31). I sympathise with her assertion that underfunding from Westminster is an existential threat to (the Scottish) NHS, parentheses my own, but the hubris of Holyrood and Westminster have equally created this predicament in staffing.

Covid is not the problem. Covid has exposed it, a service run with miniscule reserve for increased demand. In brief, Ms Gunn Barrett argues that your article on staffing (“Doctors at ‘breaking point’ due to staffing shortages”, The Herald, December 29) presents no evidence, Scotland has the highest number of GPs per head of population in the UK, they are well remunerated, and conflates overall NHS staffing statistics to contend that there is no evidence – she asserts “quite the opposite” – of large numbers of GPs retiring. In response, The Herald has reported the issue fairly well in my view and for quite some time.

Since 2013 Scotland’s population has increased by some 7.8% whilst GP WTE (whole time equivalent) has decreased by 1.7% over the same period. If two full-time doctors retire and three doctors start work but amongst them only work the hours of one, you do not have a doctor added, you have lost one. That is what WTE means.

The Nuffield Trust study Ms Gunn Barret fondly quotes about “number of GPs” in Scotland – which is a useless measure unless we know the WTE number – points out that each country reports information differently, and that the trend across the board is downward. I was surprised she drew the opposite conclusion from what it clearly states. The hoary subject of money and remuneration does not represent a positive. The money a practice receives is based on performance and patient number, not WTE. Increased individual remuneration results from unfilled posts, and the surviving doctors have to cover appointments of the missing doctor. Finally, the increased staffing is largely nurses and pharmacists who are part of an extended team to help the besieged physicians.

The problems within the NHS are chronic, endemic across all the nations and administrations of the United Kingdom. They require honest assessment, and a decision as to what we want from it, what we accept it cannot provide and what we are willing to pay for it.

Denis Clifford, Kilsyth.

BUT IT’S OUR EXCHEQUER, TOO

I FEEL I must take issue with Robert IG Scott’s assertion (Letters, January 5) that “during the pandemic [Scotland’s economy] would not have survived without massive inputs from the London Exchequer”. Forgive me, but since when was London some kind of benevolent foreign power bestowing its charitable largesse on this benighted wee country?

This is, in fact, the UK Exchequer beholden to the whole of this United Kingdom. As Scotland is still – unfortunately – a part of this entity we are entitled to benefit from our contributions via taxation. We are not some supplicant holding our hands out for munificent largesse from our lords and masters.

Forbes Dunlop, Glasgow.

VOTING SYSTEM A CREDIT TO SCOTLAND

I AM intrigued as to why Robert IG Scott (Letters, January 5) states that the Scottish Greens are unelected? The Green MSPs currently in Holyrood were all elected last May and gained their seats on the list system, as did both Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross.

Would he prefer that we use the undemocratic first past the post system that maintains two-party rule in Westminster? That would of course mean a massive majority for the SNP in Holyrood, based on current constituency voting patterns.

I don’t recall seeing letters from unionists complaining about the case of Malcolm Offord, who failed to be elected to Holyrood on the list vote last May, but was then promptly appointed to the completely unelected House of Lords at Westminster and subsequently appointed to be Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. Where is the democracy in that?

First past the post denies voters in the UK many choices. Momentum supporters hide in the Labour Party and ERG supporters hide in the Conservative Party, for example. If we were to have a more democratic voting system, along the lines of many other countries in Europe, then our governments would be far more representative of the electorate.

Until then, the Scottish voting system is probably the most democratic in the UK and we should work to improve it, rather than criticise it for spurious reasons.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow.

A SPITEFUL ATTITUDE

ALLAN Thompson (Letters, January 5) suggests that the SNP is “running on empty”. He is in a small minority, as Electoral Calculus is predicting that the SNP will win all 59 seats in Scotland at the next General Election. I hope that astonishing forecast does not come true, as we should be in negotiations to be a self-governing country by then.

If that comes to pass, Robert IG Scott suggests there would be no contracts for Royal Navy ships awarded to Scotland. Were that the case, I hope he would accept there would be no Scottish defence contracts going south either. It seems Unionists are determined that rUK would cut off its nose just to spite Scotland, as their threatened hard border would also damage England more so than Scotland (England having a balance of trade surplus).

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

CLEAR UP COVID CONFUSION

I NOTE that one of the issues still causing problems on Calmac routes is “deep cleaning” whenever a crew member tests positive for Covid-19, with the consequent withdrawal of vessels from service while this is carried out (“Ferry shortage fears after three of Calmac’s ageing fleet are sidelined”, The Herald, January 5). As long ago as January last year an article in Nature was headed “Covid-19 rarely spreads through surfaces. So why are we still deep cleaning?”. That article went on to say that focusing attention on cleaning surfaces takes up limited time and resources that would be better spent on ventilation and decontamination of the air we breathe.

Further research during 2021 has confirmed this, and on Monday the BMJ reported that a group of public health experts, clinicians and scientists had written an open letter to the WHO and national governments urging them among other things to unequivocally declare SARS-CoV-2 an airborne pathogen, and so help to remove the confusion that has been used to justify outdated policies. Perhaps Calmac should take note.

David A Collins, Ladybank, Fife.

* IT surely doesn’t take a genius to work out that if people are asked to take daily lateral flow tests it might be a good idea to make sure that test kits are readily available. Sadly, this concept doesn’t seem to have occurred to our less-than-illustrious leaders.

Once again, the long-suffering public, most of whom are more than willing to do what they can to end this pandemic, are being short-changed by government incompetence.

Much easier to take the easy way out, slap restrictions on them and try to suggest that the whole Covid nightmare is their own fault, I suppose.

Dave Henderson, Glasgow.

Read more: The SNP is running on empty

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