LETTERS: Health chiefs show bad faith on specialist cuts

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Many patients and family carers of people with MS and Parkinson’s read your article ‘Angry patients ‘abandoned’ by care unit revamp’ (News, January 16). They have every right to share a sense of anger and abandonment over the reduction of in-patient beds at the Lanfine Unit at the Astley Ainsley Hospital.

VOCAL – Voice of Carers Across Lothian – represented family carers over many years in negotiation and planning of the redesign.

For Prof McMahon to claim the service “... has been redesigned to meet the needs of around 3000 people” is plainly absurd.

He fails to mention that NHS managers were quick to make the cuts in beds, but have to date largely failed to pass on funds to set up alternative provisions in the four local authorities.

Dozens of patients with severe care needs have lost up to eight weeks rehabilitation stay at the Lanfine Unit this year. For their family carers at home this has meant the loss of 400 respite weeks and the much-needed breaks to recharge their batteries from 24-hour care at home.

Adding insult to injury, grants from the £200,000 Short Breaks Fund were limited to £1000 per family per year, despite recommendations from an NHS working group to allow for a £2500 upper limit.

As it costs over £2000 to provide an 11-day stay in a quality residential care setting like Leuchie House in East Lothian, those responsible for the fund stand accused of deliberately setting grant levels low to prevent this.

Interestingly, putting the grants so low has also meant that the fund has only spent a quarter so far this year, just £46,000.

NHS chiefs will be hovering over the remainder with scalpels for cuts and politicians are unlikely to know what is happening behind the scenes.

There can be no better example of how the NHS secretly ‘shifts the balance of care’ not to community provision, but to individual patients and their families. No wonder families feel abandoned.

Sebastian Fischer, Chief executive, VOCAL (Voice of Carers Across Lothian)

Lesley confused over cycleway consultation

The Convenor of Transport Cllr Lesley Hinds cannot claim both that “we are very much in the consultation phase and are open to any comments the public would like to make” and “In designing the cycleway we have ...” without appearing confused (News, January 20).

It appears from her comments that the route has already been decided and the function of the consultation is unclear.

I expect yet again a highly publicised consultation to a controversial decision will be used to claim high public engagement, while very little effort will be made to publicise the statutory consultations that have to be entered into later in the process leading to the claim that “there has been very little response to the Traffic Regulation Orders” so it should go through.

This is what happened over the 20mph consultation and subsequent TROs.

The concerns about the proposed route are not limited to the Roseburn corridor but extend to the West End, where there is real concern about the loss of parking in an area where the pattern of parking use is changing as properties return from commercial to residential use.

So it is essential that this consultation does take the views of those living along the route into consideration and that changes are made to reflect these.

Cllr Joanna Mowat, Conservative Councillor for City Centre Ward

Arnie’s visit leaves a big carbon footprint

You reported on movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visiting Edinburgh and cycling along the streets, (News, January 21).

Last month he told the BBC that 7 million people a year were dying from the effects of global warming and urged politicians to take responsibility.

He flew into Scotland in a highly polluting private jet and was whisked away in a gas-guzzling Porsche Cayenne, followed by a Land Rover carrying his staff and luggage.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Council sends mixed message on recycling

I don’t know why Cllr Lesley Hinds keeps trumpeting the recycling collections, (‘Recycling rate trashed as city told to pick up the pieces’, News, January 19).

She is quoted as saying, “Over the next two years the new recycling collections would be extended to residents of the remaining 100,000 tenement and flat properties.”

I live in a tenement and we have had the red- and blue-box kerbside collection service for the past few years.

At the end of November we received a letter telling us that the collection service was stopping as of November 27 and we were to use the nearest street recycling bins.

These bins are few and far between and are often full. If you go to one that is full and you have to walk quarter of a mile to the next, which may also be full, the temptation not to bother is obvious.

If the council is serious about encouraging residents to recycle, I don’t understand why they stopped a perfectly good service and have replaced it with inadequate facilities.

Elspeth Porter, Henderson Row, Edinburgh