Your picture of the Week
A colourful field of purple flowers, taken by Sheila Elliot on Peniel Heugh, just below the Waterloo Monument.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
TARGET MISSING WHAT’S IMPORTANT
I was surprised to see The Southern report last week that at Borders General Hospital only 85.2% of A&E patients were seen within four hours, 10% below the Scottish Government target of 95%.
As you know, the actual target is not just to be seen, but to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. I’m sure you will agree that is significantly different and that, I believe, is where the problem lies. It’s not the NHS staff who are underperforming, it’s the target which is wrong.
If you arrive at the BGH, or any other hospital, you could be seen within minutes, but if your actual treatment takes longer than four hours, it counts against the hospital’s performance figures. That’s hardly fair.
To give a practical example, I was taken in a while ago with a very high temperature and feeling very unwell. I was taken straight into A&E and treatment started right away. I’m not sure exactly how long I was actually in A&E before being transferred to a ward, but I’m pretty sure it was over four hours. They couldn’t transfer me until I was well enough to be moved and all the many test results came back.
What I can say for sure is my treatment was first class from start to finish, constantly monitored and checked on all through the process by many different staff. Throughout, I was the focus of the staff’s attention, not the clock. Why should that count against the hospital’s performance figures?
I’m sure that is the kind of treatment all your readers would want, and get – not rushed through the system just to meet a time target.
Maybe it’s time the target was changed to being seen within four hours of arrival – treatment time being separate and left to the actual clinical need of the patient, not some artificial time limit imposed regardless of individual circumstances.
West High Street
FORGETTING THE ‘CULTURAL CRINGE’
Your ‘Comment’ last week anent the bicentenary of Emily Bronte’s birth raised the challenging question, “So why don’t we celebrate our Scottish authors in the same way?”
Although Scottish literary achievements have not always been hidden under a bushel, there was a time in schools, and even more so in the media, when Scottish culture in general, including literature, was treated as a guilty secret.
Happily, things are changing, albeit slowly, and “North British” confidence is growing. It can only be a matter of steady evolution until the old, infamous “cultural cringe” of the past is completely forgotten and we can accord our own cultural heroes and heroines the recognition they deserve.
‘NO DEAL’ IS THE BEST DEAL OF ALL
It is obvious by now that the EU Commission and its Europe-wide planetary bureaucracy do not want an orderly Brexit of mutual benefit to both sides.
They are outraged that a member state has voted to leave and are concerned that the UK might prove very successful outside the European Union, and worry also how they will find the £10bn net contribution that the UK makes to the EU’s budget as the second biggest contributor.
Brexit throws a spanner in the EU’s work to make “a country called Europe” with ever tighter regulation, including swiftly moving to a common taxation regime. Moreover, to the dismay of the Eurocrats, Brexit will increase EU scepticism in Italy, Poland, Hungary and other member states.
Clearly the EU’s power elite want to postpone Brexit as long as possible by extending the deadline of March 29, and hope to reverse it altogether in a second referendum by supercharging Project Fear because this has worked in the past in their favour. In this they have numerous cheerleaders from the urban metropolitan elite and a very well financed Remain campaign.
In 1992 Denmark voted in a referendum against the Maastricht Treaty; a re-run in 1993 produced the opposite result. In 2001 Ireland voted in a referendum against the Treaty of Nice; next year a re-run produced a vote in favour. In 2008 Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty; a second referendum produced the “correct” result in 2009.
In each case a massive propaganda operation achieved the desired outcome. This is what the commissariat plans now in the UK. Thus we hear repeated warnings of “a cliff edge”, “a disastrous exit with no deal”, and even “a catastrophe”.
This is fake news. Leaving on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms will allow trade deals to be swiftly executed with the English-speaking world and the tigers of Asia. Leaving on WTO terms will save the £39bn bung for domestic use, and boost the economy. Professor Patrick Minford has calculated that leaving the EU will give the UK a bonus of £135bn between 2020 and 2025 because of free trade and new entrepreneurial start-ups.
“No deal” is the best deal of all.
NATIONALISTS CAN’T BE TRUSTED
Westminster’s public administration and constitutional affairs committee no doubt means well in suggesting that Brexit could have been handled better if there had been more positive dialogue between the UK and Scottish governments ahead of the publication of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Yet for devolution to be improved would require all the relevant parties to come to the table in a genuine spirit of cooperation. This is hardly likely when the SNP has made no secret of their determination to undermine the Brexit process and the UK as a whole.
During inter-government talks the SNP cannot be trusted to keep confidential anything revealed to it in private, just as it cannot be trusted to use powers returning from the EU that impact on all the UK for the benefit of us all, rather than as a means to generate division and ill feeling with the rest of the UK.
Making devolution better is a laudable ambition, but there is little scope for that while Scotland is governed by the SNP.
BENEFIT RECIPIENTS CAN FILL LABOUR GAP
Hard Brexit will allow the UK to take control of its borders.
There is also a danger that this can create a Trojan horse for a migratory free-for-all.
The NHS is the priority and the UK Government should allow anyone with a medical qualification a visa due to the dire need for more doctors and nurses caused by poor planning from previous governments. Why aren’t the four-in-10 GPs who drop out after five years required to pay back some of their £500,000 training costs?
Surely the insatiable thirst for foreign general labour can be relieved locally by recipients of the UK social security system. If they refuse to work, then withdraw their benefits. This will fall in line with the public wanting incoming migrant numbers to fall.
Unemployment of young people in Scotland has become yet another problem First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cannot appear to solve. There are plenty of job vacancies which should be made compulsory after three months. These jobs will not fill themselves, and the job centres and those placing job vacancies should join forces as a combined effort. This is not operating at present and failing abysmally and employing unnecessary personnel.
Every young person is entitled to find their way with a job opportunity – denial of this is morally improper and unjust.
It is becoming more difficult to determine journalists’ somewhat biased views when reporting Brexit on TV.
Would it not be a good idea, particularly running up to Brexit, to subtitle their personal vote at the last referendum (Remain or Leave)? Viewers can then make their own decision easier on the information received.
CLEANING UP AN SNP MESS
In typical SNP supporter mode, Keith Pattison, in attacking me, branches off into SNP diversions (letters, August 2).
First of all, as a Scottish chartered accountant, I am well aware of the new Scottish tax bands.
Around 8,000 military personnel north of the border will benefit from the UK Government £4m scheme to ensure they are not penalised for being stationed in Scotland.
A soldier will get £12, an army sergeant £75, a navy lieutenant £406 and an army brigadier £1,117. Between now and 2020, around 1,400 submariners will move to Faslane and 400 personnel to RAF Lossiemouth, and Westminster will pick up the tax anomaly, so yet again the UK Government is stepping in to clean up an SNP mess.
The 2017/18 Annual Accounts published by HMRC shows that Scotland had a £567m shortfall in its income tax take, prompting fears of a knock-on effect for Scottish councils and other public bodies.
Finance secretary Derek Mackay does not have any financial qualifications, so with a Scottish budget of over £37bn, perhaps a Scottish chartered accountant is essential.
MORE ‘PIFFLE AND PONTIFICATING’
My letter in the Southern of July 19 invited David Millar to suggest ideas how a community council might help LGBT people.
His response (letters, July 26) fails to make a single suggestion to help LGBT people: it is merely more of his “piffle and pontificating”.
THE WORDS ON THE STREET
Recently I noticed in Kelso Square, directly in front of the town hall, four words inscribed on the cobbles – ‘Honour’, Freedom’, Wisdom’ and ‘Valour’.
Can you tell me why and when these words were inscribed?
So, after a string of insults over recent months, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has resorted to poking fun at US President Donald Trump. Why?
How come Sturgeon’s so free to assume the moral high ground re Trump, while Prime Minister Theresa May cannot?
Perhaps because, besides her UK break-up obsession, Sturgeon personifies insignificance. She heads up a minority government of a partly-devolved domestic assembly of a non-sovereign nation. It’s little surprise Trump had no interest in meeting her in Scotland recently.
With no foreign affairs or international trade responsibility, Sturgeon apparently considers her remit to be jeering vacuously from the sidelines, while the UK Government must roll up its sleeves to build new trading relationships across the globe. Love or loathe Brexit, May would be neglecting her Brexit duties if she spurned the leader of the world’s largest economy.
Meantime Sturgeon tries to attract media attention with dodgy attempts at wit.
YOU COULD QUALIFY FOR ALLOWANCE
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that the percentage of those aged 65 and over who receive attendance allowance fell by 22.3% in the six years after the Westminster coalition came to power in 2010.
Attendance allowance is not-means-tested and is to help with disability-related daily living costs.
It is available to those 65 or over who do not already receive personal independence payment (PIP) or disability living allowance (DLA). Recipients do not have to spend the allowance on personal care.
Thousands of elderly people who could be entitled to this extra tax free £200 a month do not make a claim, possibly due to the kind of public perception of being scroungers.
If you have ever wondered if you could be entitled to the allowance, now is the time to find out as Benefitanswers are offering a free check to see if you could qualify for this allowance.
If you are over 65 and would like further information, ring 03302234773, or email [email protected]
ARE WE A NATION OF ANIMAL LOVERS?
Shocking statistics released in July showed that more than 3.7m animals were used in experiments in Britain during last year.
We claim to be a nation of animal lovers, so it is shocking that these millions of animals – including mice, dogs, cats, rats, horses and monkeys – were subjected to experiments. Most of them would have been killed afterwards.
These cruel experiments fail people as well as animals, since the results cannot be reliably translated to humans.
Animal Aid urges researchers conducting animal experiments to instead use humane, non-animal research methods.
If you are also opposed to animal experiments, please get in touch with me and order an action pack.
Either phone 01732 364546 (xtn 236) or email [email protected]
(campaign manager, animal experiments) Animal Aid
YOU MADE MY JOB MUCH EASIER
I would like to thank the following people and organisations for making my job as chief foot steward of Kelso Civic Week much easier – Lloyd Landrover Kelso for the use of its vehicle, Lloyds Tractors Kelso for the use of its quad bike, the lads for parking cars at The Haugh, Yetholm, also Chris and Jamie for all their help and all others who assisted me.
The help was greatly appreciated.