‘Turn them away to go to their GPs’

The choice of language might be a little surprising coming from one of Scotland’s most senior and respected medics.

But when he compared young people demanding treatment at A&E for “coughs, colds and bee stings” to customers nipping into McDonald’s for a burger, NHS Lothian’s medical director David Farquharson got it spot on.

Not all young people think this way, as Mr Farquharson acknowledges, but a growing number do feel entitled to demand help on their own terms – and to hang with the consequences for others.

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The carnage wreaked night after night by drunken yobs is still the biggest needless strain on our casualty departments. But the time taken dealing with trivial medical complaints is increasingly adding to the strain on the health service.

These are the main reasons why more than 400 people every month face waits of more than four hours for treatment at our local A&Es.

This is particularly galling when massive resources have been pumped into primary care through GP surgeries, while at the Western General Hospital there is a bespoke Minor Injuries Unit. The clue is in the title, kids . . .

The most tempting solution is to simply turn away the time-wasters and force them to go to a GP.

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But that alone will not solve the problem. Some young people need to be educated about how their behaviour affects others.

And, who knows, explaining that in terms of a Big Mac and fries might just be the best way of getting the message through.

Grave mistake

one of the marks of a civilised society is how well it respects its dead.

In which case, the graffiti that besmirches what is arguably Edinburgh’s most famous graveyard reflects badly on us all.

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It’s not so much the graffiti itself at Old Calton burial ground, which is clearly the work of an idiot – and, judging by the wording, presumably a drunk one at that.

No, the wider shame is that the offending scrawl appears to have survived for more than two years without anyone in authority doing anything about it.

After all, it is hard to see how it could have been missed, written as it is in white letters over several square feet of stonework.

Even if council workers did fail to spot it all this time, you can be sure that the many visitors who come from around the world to see our memorials to David Hume, the Scottish Martyrs and the Scottish-American soldiers of the US Civil War did not do so.