Readers' letters: Healthcare privatisation is being missed by SNP leadership

I just received a letter from NHS Lothian confirming an outpatient appointment with Insource Medicare, a private healthcare provider.

This will (one assumes) cost the NHS more than using its own staff. Multiply this by the number of appointments / firms used and it will seriously eat into the NHS budget, using up precious NHS funds.

I’m told that future correspondence regarding my treatment will also come from Insource Medicare. I won’t be liable for any costs yet, but this is a stark example of the gradual privatisation of the Scottish Health Service.

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It’s also a reminder that while we remain in a Union dominated by England with no voice or control over how we are governed, the corporate takeover and dismantling of what remains of our publicly owned services – healthcare and water are especially targeted - will continue, even under a future Labour government.

The devolution settlement is fragile because power devolved to Scotland is power retained by Westminster. And now that we’ve been forced out of the EU, Westminster is pushing through the EU Withdrawal Bill, where Section 38 asserts UK Parliamentary Sovereignty, a concept that doesn’t apply to Scotland as our constitutional foundation in the Claim of Right confirms that power rests with the people.

To make matters worse, a new Act of Union is in the Westminster pipeline and will eviscerate any remaining control Scotland has over its own affairs.

The lights are blinking red. Is the SNP leadership even taking notice?

Margaret McGowan, Edinburgh.

Attention seeking Truss ignores Scots

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It is obvious that the democracy denying attention seeker Liz Truss will ignore Scotland’s request for a fair Westminster contribution to unforeseen UK inflation.

Those criticising the Scottish government don’t understand the limitations of the devolution settlement as last year’s UK Spending Review, which forms the bulk of Scotland’s budget, did not take into account the level of salary increases proposed by independent pay review bodies.

Under devolution, we do not have the necessary financial flexibility to meet such unprecedented public sector pay rises without massive budget cuts as any Scottish government has to balance its books on an annual basis.

Tories are in a weak position on balancing the books as evidenced by the fact that since 1951 Tory governments have borrowed £1491 billion but only repaid £7bn while in office.

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The price of natural gas is currently 125 percent higher than the start of the year and North Sea crude oil is still over $100 a barrel, which means a cash bonanza for the energy companies and well over ten billion pounds for HM Treasury in London, even allowing for the UK’s benign taxation system when compared to Norway. After independence, this money will accrue to the Scottish government.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Help, don’t preach

The National Secular Society has urged the Scottish Government to take care when outsourcing services to religious groups whose inability to resist preaching can put vulnerable people at risk. This is particularly true as some conservative religious attitudes towards women’s equality, contraception and abortion are unhelpful when it comes to tackling violence against women and girls.

Many faith-based groups offer community services that operate according to high ethical standards and do not proselytise. Unfortunately many others do not. The Scottish Government must prioritise the safety of service.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh.

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