Health

Letters: It’s high time Sturgeon stopped throttling the economy



THE United States has cut quarantine time for Covid-positive cases to five days. Boris Johnson, in England, has cut quarantine time to seven days and is being urged to reduce further to five. Yet Nicola Sturgeon, in Scotland, continues to throttle the life out of the Scottish economy with a 10-day quarantine.

Yes, cases of Omicron are rising but mainly in younger age groups, and thankfully hospital admissions and death rates are stable, reflecting the experience of South Africa that Omicron is often mild.

In England, contacts of a Covid-positive case can continue their normal life if they have negative lateral flow tests. In contrast, contacts in Scotland must isolate for 10 days even if their lateral flows are negative.

Nicola Sturgeon is increasingly out of step, and meantime, business, livelihoods and the running of our public services in Scotland suffer. The overly cautious package of restrictions here is damaging Scotland’s economy and the functioning of society.

It is time for a more optimistic strategy.

Dr Bruce Halliday, Dumfries.

* JOHN Swinney warns against Scots travelling across the jurisdictional border to see in the new year. Covid infection rates in West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, West Lothian and Edinburgh are significantly higher than in all northerly English counties. Mr Swinney is keen to suggest that celebrating Scots will bring back infection from England to their home towns and cities – but surely the reality is that Scots will take the virus to England, and so should stay home to protect the English?

Martin Redfern, Melrose.

PM A DANGEROUS GAMBLER

FROM the start of the coronavirus pandemic Prime Minister Johnson has arrogantly gambled with people’s lives.

With the ONS recently reporting more than 80,000 excess deaths, the total number of lives tragically lost directly or indirectly to Covid-19 across the UK is now nearly a quarter of a million. His huge gamble, though, has not saved the economy, because not only has the UK suffered among the highest death rates in the world, if not the highest, the UK has suffered among the worst economic effects. Another big gamble, Brexit, has no doubt significantly contributed to the UK’s economic decline, but this does not excuse his latest selfish gamble in failing to introduce more “preventative measures” to counter spiralling infection rates.

Countries around the world, including those with devolved governments but limited powers, are aggressively attempting to inhibit infection rates but the government of the country with the highest rate is not. While his sycophantic Cabinet ministers continue to boast the qualification of a “world-beating vaccine roll-out” to divert from the Prime Minister’s gross negligence, not only has the UK fallen behind even many countries in Europe in its vaccine roll-out but the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine, favoured by Mr Johnson, has proven to be the least effective in combating the prevalent Omicron variant.

How many more lives are to be unnecessarily lost before the excuses of laziness and incompetence are replaced by calls for this highly dangerous gambler to be held to account for the genocide of the old, weak and vulnerable?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

SNP TO BLAME FOR DOCTOR SHORTAGE

DR Lewis Morrison is not the first, nor will be the last, medical advisor to be ignored by the Scottish Government over doctor numbers (“Doctors at ‘breaking point’ due to staffing shortages”, The Herald, December 29). The present long-standing deficit has many fathers, but the restrictions to entry of Scottish-domiciled students to Scottish medical schools is a major cause.

The SNP Government’s financial limits on Scottish numbers, while allowing universities to fill medical schools with English and overseas students who pay upwards of £45,000 annually is a root cause. How else are the shiny new medical school buildings on University Avenue, Glasgow and at Edinburgh Royal paid for?

Furthermore up to 20% of UK medical graduates immediately leave Scotland, never to return, leaving Scotland, which has five medical schools for a population of 5.5 million, with a deficit of graduate doctors. English medical graduates leave Scotland to return home to family and friends, especially if two graduates marry, which is common. Scotland exports annually the graduates of a whole medical school. In future this must be mitigated by increasing Scottish-domiciled medical student numbers, which only the Scottish Government can finance. For many years I taught medical students in Glasgow and noted the reducing proportion of Scots in each annual intake. Too many bright Scots are denied the opportunity to train and serve by this Government, and the universities need reminded that their priorities are in providing Scotland with doctors who will stay, not gilding their palaces. To do so is not parochial or nationalist but entirely pragmatic.

Scotland has an illustrious history of exporting doctors to the world, but never previously to the detriment of our own health services. One would never wish to exclude overseas students entirely but university avarice for overseas money is endless and damaging to Scotland’s NHS. Scottish Government parsimony on financing training for Scottish students and postgraduates, thus limiting numbers who will stay in Scotland, is a primary cause of the present problem which will take decades to resolve.

The usual SNP response to such messages as those of Dr Morrison is found at the end of his article; I paraphrase, “nothing to be seen here, all is well”.

Scotland deserves better.

Gavin R Tait FRCSEd, East Kilbride.

BUILD ON BREXIT OPTIMISM

IT seems some Herald readers are disappointed in Brexit and question what point there is in leaving the EU. Nigel Dewar Gibb (Letters, December 28) asserts it’s easy to list the disadvantages – yet does not actually list them.

He even goes as far as to predict that new trade deals will be of negligible value. I suspect this is yet more unfounded fearmongering and continues the rhetoric of “cliff edges” and “into the abyss” which was predicted pre-Brexit by many nationalists but which we have yet to experience.

Perhaps he can take comfort that on the UK leaving the EU, the US immediately dropped tariffs on our Scotch whisky exports, thereby giving a £500 million boost to the industry and in an instant making our whisky more competitive, so it is now up to that industry to take full advantage, especially now that the SNP chameleon has changed colour (again) to become a squeaky clean green government and now wants nowt to do with our dirty oil rigs.

I wish Mr Dewar Gibb and everyone a healthy 2022 as we would still be waiting for vaccines if the UK had stayed in the EU vaccine procurement programme and that this goes some way to dispelling his feelings of being on a lonely friendless wee island in the North Sea thinking “what has Brexit/Britain ever done for us ?” And that’s before we even think about Scotland’s deficit.

As an ex-Remainer I look forward to the UK building on the optimism of Brexit instead of the “we’re doomed” prophets dwelling in negative denial of all things British.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.

KINSALE WAS NOT LIKE CULLODEN

WHILE I accept the broad parallel between Kinsale and Culloden described by Struan Stevenson (“Remember Ireland’s Culloden and how it shaped our story”, The Herald, December 23) in respect that each of these battles pointed to the end of the Gaelic way of life and clan culture respectively in Ireland and Scotland, I would like to offer the non-expert view that there was little or no parallel in the political significances of these battles.

While Kinsale seems to have been a decisive, negative factor in the quest for an independent Ireland at that time, the independence or otherwise of Scotland, having been resolved in the Treaty of Union prior to Culloden, was not an issue at that battle. There were many Scots in support of the Government at Culloden, possibly more than there were in support of Charlie. Neither side at Culloden was interested in ruling Scotland as its own state. Charlie, with his eyes fixed on Westminster, was a diehard unionist just like his opponents and had no interest in an independent Scotland, while the Hughs O’Neill and O’Donnell sought at Kinsale to remove Ireland from English rule.

There appears to be no parallel between the English victory over the Irish at Kinsale and the victory by one British, unionist faction over another at Culloden which was simply not a Scottish battle at all. An erroneous belief in any such parallel might contribute to some of the misunderstanding which underlies the current constitutional debate in Scotland.

Michael Sheridan, by Strachur, Argyll.

PENNY FOR THEIR THOUGHTS

YOU report today that Reform Scotland wants a temporary income tax rise to pay for improvements to adult social care in Scotland (“Call to up Scottish income tax by 1p”, The Herald, December 29).

Income tax was introduced as a temporary measure to fund the Napoleonic Wars.

Governments do not let go when on to something good.

David Miller, Milngavie.

Read more: Indy Scotland could not possibly fare any worse than now





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