Readers' letters: Health issue are beyond our control, Ian

Reverting to his default mode of criticising the Scottish Government, this time over a shortage of GPs (News, January 26), can Ian Murray explain what’s happening in Labour-controlled Wales?
Where Art I? Edinburgh Sketcher - 30 January 2023Where Art I? Edinburgh Sketcher - 30 January 2023
Where Art I? Edinburgh Sketcher - 30 January 2023

Welsh opposition parties lambasted Labour’s record on health. Just 62 per cent of NHS buildings in north Wales were ‘operationally safe’ and Welsh ambulance workers and nurses, but not Scottish, are on strike.

In his defence, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said health funding had been squeezed by Westminster with borrowing frozen at 2016 levels, so where was he to find the extra money?

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That’s the problem with devolved government. Real power – to borrow and create money, set interest rates and invest where needed – is retained by Westminster, hamstringing Cardiff and Edinburgh.

As for GP shortages, English universities have been ordered to limit the number of medical school places to 7500 or face fines of £100k per student.

That’s extraordinary when the NHS is facing historic staff shortages. Brexit, opposed by most Scots but now supinely supported by Starmer’s Labour, has compounded the problem.

Westminster claims it’s too expensive to train more doctors but the reality is we can’t afford not to. Every pound spent on health generates £4 in economic activity, for the obvious reason that unhealthy people cannot work, earn and spend or pay taxes.

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Over the last decade, the UK spent a fifth less than its European neighbours on health care, which helps explain its pathetic economic performance.

If Ian Murray really cared about his constituents’ health, he’d break with his English puppet masters and support the restoration of Scotland’s statehood.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Energy budgeting

I have to confess myself slightly puzzled by the news that energy arrears have hit a 10-year high.

Our household has found that with a relatively mild winter to-date the Government subsidy of £400 paid directly to the supplier, turning down the thermostat, putting on an extra sweater and shutting doors our bills have been slightly lower this winter.

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An added bonus has been that the reduction in the thermostat has resulted in a less ‘stuffy’ atmosphere.

Of course, we have also ‘cut our cloth’ in terms of shopping to match our budget and not ‘spent’ the fuel savings.

I realise there are many households who always struggle, particularly where there is a long-term illness or medical equipment gobbling up electricity; but most of our friends are in a similar position to us.

Even my grandchildren have twigged that they don’t need the house so warm because they have stopped running around in T shirts and shorts and are dressed more ‘appropriately’.

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Energy supplies are a challenge, as our First Lady would say, but one that has to be tackled with all-round budgeting solutions.

James Watson, Dunbar

Sound of silence

When I returned to Scotland one of the joys of Edinburgh were the twice weekly lunchtime concerts by Edinburgh University Music School.

Free and open to the public they were of a high quality given by visiting musicians and also it was a pleasure to see the students making music, some of whom like Louise Aldred have gone on to be international stars.

It is therefore very sad to see that the University has failed to restore these concerts after the pandemic. The University has a commitment to the community. Can I make a plea to the University to restore them?

Hugh Kerr, Edinburgh

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