Letters to the Editor


Health chiefs must consider their future

On March 9, 2014, a 91-year-old lady suffering from dementia was admitted to the BGH with a blood infection. On April 5, she was discharged.

During her stay, she was left alone in an isolation ward, and given very little assistance to eat or drink, or with personal hygiene. She died in her care home on June 13.

Jane Davidson, NHS Borders chief executive, issued a statement admitting responsibility for NHS Borders’ failings in this case, and Evelyn Rodger, director of nursing, said she regretted the poor care and treatment, lack of communication and support.

A terminally-ill man was admitted to BGH with a heavy nose bleed, and in considerable pain. Bedside oxygen equipment didn’t work, and he wasn’t given adequate pain relief – apparently not even his own medication for lung cancer. He became so frustrated that he discharged himself and died at home three days later.

Evelyn Rodger apologised to the patient’s family for the distress caused, and promised to improve services in the future.

Add to this history of incompetence the frequent ward closures due to norovirus and generally sub-standard hygiene, and you are presented with a scenario of lack of care by nursing staff and obvious lack of interest or supervision by BGH “directors”.

Someone has to answer – staff should be sacked – although it appears that those responsible haven’t even been disciplined.

Jose Mourinho has been kicked out because he couldn’t do his job as Chelsea football club manager. Jane Davidson and Evelyn Rodger would be well advised to consider their future with NHS Borders.

Iain Taylor

Woodbank Road

Undue prominence

Inevitably, I fear, it is always the bad news that hits the headlines.

In the case of your December 17 issue, it was the ill treatment of a dementia sufferer inBorders General Hospital which occurred on March 9, 2014, over a year ago.

While much to be regretted, I think the episode was given undue prominence.

To redress the balance, may I say that since retiring to Kelso in 2009, both of us OAPs, my wife and I have received nothing but expert and sympathetic treatment for a wide range of complaints, including a heart attack, fractures and a gall bladder problem.

William Simpson

Tweedsyde ParkKelso


People made the difference

As 2014 came to a close, I wondered how long it would be until Scotland felt a draught.

No, I’m not talking about the whistling of Storm Abigail through your door, I’m talking about the tumbleweed silence that comes after a country hosts major sporting events and media attention moves on.

At the start of 2015, the outlook was worrying. Global exchange rates moved radically against us, the spring/summer weather was disappointing and many across the tourism industry were fearing the worst.

However, with true Scottish determination our industry worked hard to achieve success. The results speak for themselves with latest figures noting an increase in visits and spend for the first six months of the year, more direct air routes to Scotland than ever before, literally billions of pounds in investment rolling out across the country and success in securing a stellar line-up of global events and conferences for the next five years.

Most importantly, we proved that when we pull together and work hard in this industry that we all know and love, we can stop that icy draft developing into a cold for Scottish tourism.

For me, it’s the Scottish people who have made the ultimate difference with our warmth, passion and spirit. Scotland is seen across the world as a welcoming nation, and visitors come to us knowing that every region plays a part in this.

I would like to pay tribute to everyone in the Borders for their role in turning 2015 into a tourism success, from making warm pots of soup (it was the Year of Food and Drink after all!) for cold sightseers, to giving directions to organising interesting and exciting events and activities for our visitors.

Next year, we welcome the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – a world first – and with that a host of new ideas and events within Scottish tourism.

Mike Cantlay



Austerity talk, Blairite walk

You have to admire one thing about the SNP government – it’s consistent.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon constantly talks anti-austerity radicalism, yet walks a neo-liberal Blairite agenda.

We all know the SNP retuned its rhetoric in the period running up to the referendum, successfully attracting diehard Labour voters to its separatist cause by professing a radical Scottish alternative.

Yet by consistently delivering broadly conservative policy, the nationalists manage skilfully to retain middle class voters. And John Swinney’s budget exemplifies the SNP’s unswervingly centrist strategy, par excellence.

The SNP shows what its real concerns are with populist universal rather than targeted benefits.

Entitlements like free school meals for younger primary pupils and free prescriptions for all remain. Untouched are free university education and free bus travel for pensioners. The council tax is frozen yet again.

All this disproportionally benefits the middle classes. Plus no vote-losing change to income tax.

Despite SNP claims, Mr Swinney’s budget shows scant interest in offering much-needed focused support to the less well off in our society.

Like every politician, the First Minister is obsessed with power and naturally wants to win next May. She clearly regards universal benefits, not anti-austerity policies, as the easiest route to election success.

But let us never forget, what obsesses Ms Sturgeon even more is independence.

A healthy win May is imperative to keep the First Minister’s second referendum dream alive.

Martin Redfern



Target the Tories instead

The recent budget put forward by SNP finance minister John Swinney has attracted much criticism from other parties because of the cuts that he has been forced to make.

However, the critics are taking aim at entirely the wrong target. They should be directing their displeasure instead at the Tory government in London, and George Osborne in particular.

The Scottish Parliament’s block grant of money from London is being reduced year-by-year as part of Mr Osborne’s unnecessarily harsh austerity cuts – and the devolution settlement expressly prevents the Scottish Government from borrowing like any other ‘normal’ government.

Mr Swinney is constrained to living within his means and has no other option but to impose cuts in order to make ends meet.

Complaints from the likes of Labour’s Kezia Dugdale and the Tories’ Ruth Davidson would be better directed at the uncaring government in London whose policies are forcing more and more Scots to depend on foodbanks.

Peter Swain

Innerwick, Dunbar


Taking aim 
at the SNP

The national press reports that Calum Kerr, SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, states that the Paris agreement on global warming will save the haggis.

Cracks are appearing in the SNP thinking as surely everyone knows the way to save the haggis is to curtail the open shooting season to three months of the year.

Robert Dickson

Cheviot Terrace, Coldstream


German leader’s U-turn

What a difference a day makes – or in this case it is four months since Angela Merkel was warmly inviting the world’s refugees to Germany.

To rapturous applause at the Christian Democratic Union annual conference, she said that the tsunami of migrants must be stopped since the current influx would overwhelm the state and society. She promised to speed up the deportation of failed asylum applicants.

The German leader then restated her long-term opposition to multi-culturalism saying: “Multi-kulti leads to parallel societies and is a living lie. Integration is the opposite.”

No wonder she got an eight-minute standing ovation.

Now is the time for Britain to get equally tough.

Clark Cross



Don’t be afraid to call for help

One in 11 of your readers has asthma – and there are warning signs that more people than usual, including children, are seeking help from their GP because of worsening asthma symptoms.

There is nothing as terrifying as watching a child or a loved one struggle to breathe and, sadly, this Christmas Day someone will be having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack every 10 seconds.

Asthma UK has five top tips for managing your asthma at Christmas on our website – www.asthma.org.uk/xmastips – and I want to remind your readers that they should not be afraid to call for help if they need it. If you are having an attack and your reliever inhaler is not helping, you should call 999.

Kay Boycott

(chief executive)
Asthma UK, London

law enf0rcement

Council snoopers

How much more proof do people need to convince them we are in an SNP dictatorship?

Council environment officers will, as well as the police, enforce the latest incursion on our liberties – ensuring adults do not smoke in private cars when under-18s are in the vehicle.

Why do we need council snoopers involved in law enforcement ?

Eric R. S. Davidson

Macduff, Banffshire