I WONDER what kind of parallel universe Jane Lax (Letters 14 April) lives in. Ms. Lax says that there is nothing to be seen in the ongoing Downing Street lockdowns and subsequent police fines for Prime Minster Johnson and his associates. She suggests that we instead look at the management of the Scottish health service by the Scottish Government, which she considers unsatisfactory.
The worst pandemic in more than 100 years has devastated health services across the UK, and around the globe. Now we are seeing the consequences of having to restrict primary care consultations and elective surgery, while the NHS managed the onslaught from critically ill-Covid patients.
We are now hopefully emerging from the worst of this pandemic. However, one of its many legacy is an exhausted and burnt-out workforce that Ms Lax feels should be working around the clock. The workforce is the limiting factor. Elective treatments and screening have resumed, but that’s not all. All of our devolved healthcare services had insufficient skilled paramedical staff, nurses, and clinicians to continue their service pre-pandemic. Brexit and the hostile environment of the UK Government have made it impossible to recruit staff from Europe and elsewhere. This problem cannot be solved in the short-term even with a significant funding increase. The skilled staff are not available and will take many years to train. Chronic underfunding has returned the NHS to its former glory via the Barnet formula.
Any performance indicator will show that the pandemic has made health services in all devolved countries unsatisfactory, and even dangerous, according to any measure. There are no quick fixes, and rebuilding the NHS will be the most difficult task in the post-pandemic era. But, I believe more in the restoration and improvement of the Scottish NHS under Nicola Surgeon’s Government than the Prime Minister with his gang of law-breaking acolytes.
Iain Gunn and Elgin
A MATTER OF LANGUAGE
I SYMPATHISE (Mark Smith), The Herald, April 14, “How I got it wrong in the trans rights row”, The Herald. I would advise you to not be too concerned about it. Even in an educated society, where we think we know everything, so many people are still getting it wrong. In the past, gender was easily determined from the moment a midwife touched your bum. Your adult sex life was your “private” life, and any request for more details was met with a stern stare. The gay community kept theirs private for fear of being prosecuted. The state claimed morale was at the Everest summit, but it wasn’t its business. Although everyone in the community knew who they were/were, did they really care? No.
Another way to divide the community is now apparent. To help, I will offer some guidance: According to the Concise Oxford definition of transition, “transition” is “passage/change from one place/state/sets or circumstances to another”. The prefix trans means movement/process. People who refer to themselves as “transwomen” or even “transmen” are not yet in the final stages of the process. A trans-man who has undergone a full transformation may become a woman after he has gone through it. However, there are obvious limitations. Trans-woman who claims to be a woman but has not gone through a full transition is wrong.
You might call me pedantic, but the English language wasn’t invented by me. After all, can society agree that their private lives are not the responsibility of anyone else but theirs? These days, you should be able to mind your own business.
Maureen McGarry O’Hanlon, Balloch
LET’S VISIT A LONGER SCHOOL TIME
AS an Independent candidate in the forthcoming elections for council, it is disappointing to see the usual “pingponging” of party politics preventing a reasonable conversation around proposals for a longer schoolday.
First, we must address the immediate impact of Covid on education. This is a serious crisis. This is a crisis. The government has not established a cohesive national “catch-up strategy.” I believe a national tutoring service is a good idea. A second benefit of an extended school day, which our youth have been missing for over two years, is not necessarily more formal education but more curricular enrichment (as it happens in the private sector). There is no way to return to pre-pandemic levels outside of the formal curriculum. It is not a prolonged day that has harmed mental health. However, it has the potential of improving it and ensuring greater equality of access. Teachers and school staff are often on their knees, thirdly. The stress of “doing schools” as if Covid hadn’t happened has finally taken its toll. This is not a whinge. It’s the truth. Expecting more teachers will increase talent in the profession.
We have much to do. It is worth exploring the possibility of a longer school day, regardless of who proposes it. It will take imagination, investment, and collaboration to realize it.
Sarah Atkin, Independent Candidate, Black Isle Ward, By Fortrose, Ross-shire.
SEA EAGLES REQUIRE SPECIAL PROTECTION
LIKE Elizabeth Mueller (Letters April 15) or MSP Angus MacNeil. I was not present when a sea eagle killed lambs. Few competent people have ever witnessed it. It is a rare occurrence.
However, I do have a lot of knowledge about these birds as a professional ornithologist. This is unlike Ms Mueller and Mr MacNeil and most likely the complaining farmer. I speak from my experience, and not from ignorance as those who don’t understand the difference between killing or scavenging. The ancient graves of Orkney include the 5,00 year-old Tomb of the Eagles, on South Ronaldsay. This is the basis for the deification of sea eagles. It is a good term for a species that requires special protection from the ill informed who want to see them die for no good reason.
Bernard Zonfrillo (Glasgow).
R RUSSELL Smith’s talk on the coastal grandmother trend (Letters April 15) prompted me to seek out more information. Evidently, white wine is the lifeblood coastal grandmothers.
I will, for my part, continue to play the role of urban grandfather with a daily pint and occasional g & T.
Milngavie, David Miller