SIR – “You’ll see your GP within two weeks” (report, September 22) – what a dismally pathetic aim.
SIR – As a veterinarian, if the owners of my patients were told they would have to wait two weeks or more to see me they would go elsewhere for treatment – because they can.
Perhaps it is time to privatise the NHS.
SIR – I am a retired GP and worked in the NHS from 1966 until 2004. The basic problem is that the service is entirely free at the point of use.
Human nature causes the rest of its demand problems, which is why the NHS model hasn’t been copied anywhere in the world.
Dr Peter Sander
SIR – My own experience of the NHS has been largely excellent. However, the difficulty in accessing a GP means that Dr Google is already the first consultation many people turn to for medical advice.
Doctors themselves are increasingly using artificial intelligence to diagnose more rapidly and more effectively than human beings.
The Government should prepare now for the anticipated shortage of GPs by developing AI triage as a front-line service. It has the potential to be vastly more cost-effective and at least as accurate as a tired locum with a 10-minute deadline.
SIR – In recent years my wife has had private health treatment for cancer and now for a neurological problem. I have had NHS care for fractures. All the care and treatments were excellent.
Being over 65 it’s our choice how we spend our savings and when we use private healthcare we know that everyone who can’t afford to pay moves faster to the front of the NHS queue.
When will we have politicians brave enough to incentivise us and integrate private and NHS healthcare?
Never, because they are deluded in thinking we can create a health service efficient for everyone in a low-tax society.
SIR – My 100-year-old mother-in-law is doubly incontinent and has for some time had the necessary NHS supplies prescribed and delivered.
When she had to move to a care home in a different area, the supply stopped. The new health authority insisted that she must be reassessed, for which there has so far been a wait of more than four months.
The obvious duplication is totally lost on the NHS, let alone the cruelty and embarrassment caused. There is a rule, we were told.
Dash for growth
SIR – While Liz Truss was not yet born when Edward Heath was prime minister, her policy to “dash for growth” comes against a background with too many similarities to the early 1970s for comfort – stagflation, an energy shock, and dislocation from the European community.
She will now encourage a building boom (“New homes on protected land as PM rips up planning laws”, report, September 22) at a time when the price of building materials is through the roof, and, at least in our area of the South East, reputable builders have full workloads. In this context, tax cuts, yet more government borrowing and a sinking currency increase the danger of future inflation.
While history may not repeat itself, it is worth reminding younger MPs that the 1970s saw the Conservatives lose power to Labour governments, all equally ineffective in tackling inflation until a firmer hand and, mercifully, a flow of North Sea oil, helped to turn things around.
It took a decade. During that period, we endured a stock-market crash amid a property-sector crisis and the corrosive effect of inflation on company liquidity. The latter was addressed by stock relief and, ultimately, by inflation accounting, now seemingly all forgotten.
SIR – Liz Truss is right that we need to get growth going. Britain has been through Brexit and the pandemic. Add to these a new monarch and a new prime minister, and it’s like we are starting again. The message the Government needs to get our people to buy into is that their own contribution will make a real difference.
Stoke D’Abernon, Surrey
SIR – Would it not be better if Ms Truss controlled immigration rather than build thousands of houses on irreplaceable green belt land?
SIR – On September 18, in memory of Queen Elizabeth II, we planted a Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata Robusta’ – 11 inches tall (Letters, September 22).
As it sits close to our gates it will give us a constant reminder, and affectionate memory, of our greatest monarch. May it match the 96 years and beyond.
SIR – With Vladimir Putin mobilising 300,000 troops and threatening to use nuclear weapons (report, September 21), the West needs to make clear that any use of such will, even if limited to Ukraine, be considered as an attack on Western Europe and Nato.
In order to counter the extra troop numbers that Moscow is drafting, Nato army units should be bolstered in Estonia and Latvia, to threaten the Russian boarder directly, taking some of the pressure off Ukraine.
Andrew J Smith
SIR – Putin has sown the seeds of his downfall. By calling for a mobilisation, he has given permission for thousands of young men and their families to come out on to the streets and demand he be ousted. After all, is it better to face a policeman’s baton in Moscow or a bullet through the brain in Ukraine?
They now have nothing to lose by facing him down.
Davistown, New South Wales, Australia
SIR – It is difficult to work out Putin’s motivation. The days of empire building are over, and the only way to achieve national prosperity is through international trade. The support of the people is essential if a leader is to survive. He clearly has a self-destruct button, and is determined to press it.
David S Ainsworth
SIR – Only a tyrant would rather rule over rubble than admit he was wrong.
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
SIR – On Thursday I received this message from my energy supplier:
“Thanks so much for the meter readings you sent us on September 21. It looks like we were overestimating how much energy you were using each month. Based on your latest readings and lower than estimated usage, we’ve credited £14.14 back into your account. It is now £1,352.99 in credit.”
Should I feel grateful?
Tydd St Mary, Lincolnshire
SIR – I would rather not drive than have my sight tested at Specsavers (Letters, September 22). A year ago I was told by my local branch that there was nothing it could do to improve my sight and that my left eye was “unhealthy”. A later consultation with an independent optician resulted in a capsulotomy, which restored perfect vision.
SIR – In the late 1940s, Laurence Olivier’s breeches were dried out on my grandmother’s Aga (Letters, September 21), after he was unseated from his horse into a brook while insisting on doing his own riding stunt in a film he was starring in.
SIR – Some years ago, just before Christmas, I rescued a suicidal turkey that had attempted drowning in a pond on my smallholding. I transferred this near-dead, dripping-wet bundle of feathers to a pile of towels in front of the open door of the Aga, supervising it while writing my Christmas cards.
Not only did it recover, but it was also granted a full reprieve from being the tasty focus of Christmas lunch.
Effective chess cheating before the internet
SIR – Sharp practice in chess precedes the internet (“‘Cheat’ talk sits uncomfortably with chess prodigy”, report, September 21).
Here is Harold C Schonberg, writing 50 years ago in Grandmasters of Chess: “[Players] will mutter to themselves, sip liquid noisily, eat something with great smacks of the lip, blow smoke toward the opposite player, sneeze in his face, stare at him until he becomes uncomfortable, squirm constantly, belch, pick at the nose. Nose-picking has been found to be specially effective; such a sight drives some squeamish players up the wall.”
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Reconsider strikes before the London Marathon
SIR – I am appalled that train drivers will strike on October 1, the day before the London Marathon. The strike will affect thousands of people who have spent months training so they can raise money for worthy charities, and their loved ones who wish to cheer them on as they take on the momentous task.
I hope they will reconsider this date, as I will have no sympathy for them.
SIR – So railway workers respect our late monarch but not the customers they serve – as proved by their resuming strike action. Perhaps they should look again at the dedication of Queen Elizabeth and reconsider.
SIR – Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, claims that the right to strike is a fundamental British liberty.
Not so: it is an innovation arising out of legislation in 1871. Then, working conditions were utterly different: employers held a whip hand over their workers. In current conditions, it seems wrong that one group should aim, without penalty, to better itself by imposing hardship on others.
Stanford Bridge, Worcestershire
SIR – Many unions are demanding pay increases equal to or near the rate of inflation. This will create even more inflation by pushing up prices. It is no time to destabilise the economy – but unions wish to politicise the situation and bring down the Government.
World events dictate that we exercise restraint. Queen Elizabeth’s death brought the country together, but the unions want division and chaos without realising the consequences for us all of their irresponsible and unnecessary militant action.
Many workers and small businesses in the private sector will not see pay increases anywhere near inflationary levels. Shame on the more militant unions at this time.
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