Letters: Paying a heavy price for Labour PFI contracts

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I BELIEVE many of the problems in the NHS bed crisis are the result of decisions made by the Blair/Brown former Labour governments.

The new contracts they awarded to GPs mean doctors now basically work 9am-5pm and don’t work evenings or weekends, causing patients to clog up hospital A&E departments and ending up on hospital wards.

Under Labour the number of hospital beds started to be cut. We lost 50,000 beds and have fewer than nearly every other major country in Europe.

Even my hospital, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, has onlt 900 beds. It is too small and was built under Labour’s disastrous private finance initiative.

As for maternity hospitals, we had four - Western General, Elsie Inglis, the Northern and Simpson. Now we have one at Little France, which again is far too small.

PFI contracts across the UK allowed fat cats to build schools, hospitals and other public services to the value of £59.7 billion, but the ultimate bill will reach £308 billion by the time it is paid off over the coming decades.

What a difference compared to the new South Glasgow University Hospital, funded by the Scottish Government at £842 million.

This super hospital has 1110 adult beds and 256 for sick kids, delivered ahead of time and under budget.

So the next time Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale goes on about the Scottish Government not doing enough, we have more nurses and midwives than Labour provided when they were in power.

Just think what the NHS could do with these billions of pounds, instead of handing them to the fat cats.

Jim Hill, Stenhouse Avenue, Edinburgh

Britain wins first round with EU on immigration

The public are desperate for government action in halting the tsunami of unwanted immigrants hitting our shores.

Already the signs are promising that action is being taken.

In an early UK victory the European Commission has backed down over demands that all EU countries must take their share of the tens of thousands of migrants crossing from the Mediterranean countries into Europe.

The UK would have been forced to take an estimated 60,000 migrants every year. Unsustainable.

The UK warned it would veto this plan so the European Commission said Britain would not be forced to take part. Victory in round 1.

Round 2. David Cameron is demanding sweeping changes to EU benefits rules and he wants a ban on migrants claiming hand-outs for four years and also wants to deport jobless migrants after six months.

The Tories believe this will slash immigration by removing the welfare benefits on offer to both the EU and non-EU migrants.

This is the long awaited action the public want.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Mental health care partnership matters

Figures released this week show mental health support in Scotland is moving in a positive direction, with fewer mental health related admissions to hospital and a decline in the number of people resident in Scottish psychiatric hospitals.

Although the NHS has played an important part in this progress, a significant contribution has been made by social care providers in the third sector and community organisations.

These organisations offer a wide range of person-centred services such as housing support, counselling, wellbeing workshops, employment support and advocacy services which support people with mental health problems to lead meaningful and contributing lives in our communities.

The work of third sector and community organisations has moved mental health care and treatment away from a ‘one size fits all’ model, to one where people are supported to have their care and support built around their needs, choices and aspirations.

However, spending on social care has decreased over the last few years as councils seek to balance their books as austerity measures continue to impact. The new health and social care partnerships need to address this issue so that these important social care services continue to offer positive outcomes for people.

Nigel Henderson, Chief Executive, Penumbra, Albion Road, Edinburgh

High turnout shows faith in democracy

I want to express my heartfelt and privileged thanks to everyone in Edinburgh West who came out to vote last Thursday. Whether or not you voted for me, the fact that you used your democratic right to be heard is hugely important.

With a turnout of 76.5 per cent, voters have demonstrated their faith in democracy and their engagement in politics.

I particularly want to thank my campaign team who worked so hard to get me elected and to ensure that the SNP’s message of positive change reached every part of Edinburgh West.

I’d also like to express my appreciation to my fellow candidates for fighting fair, honest and civilised campaigns. Once again, democracy is the winner.

Now the hard work starts. We need to start reversing the effects of Tory austerity and work towards reducing poverty, protecting our NHS from privatisation, investing in jobs and local business growth.

With David Cameron’s promise of £12bn in cuts up ahead, there is no time to waste.

I and my staff will do all we can to help with enquiries that are within our power to resolve.

Michelle Thomson MP, Edinburgh West