THE former high head yin of Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board (Letters, Mar 11) skytes around the fundamental issue that the NHS from day one was reliant on importing doctors and the rest from the British Empire to meet the needs of the NHS as a whole.

By the 2000s this shortfall was being met by importing these skills from the EU. The impact of Brexit cutting off its head to spite its face on this matter is not small nor insignificant as the UK has never trained enough doctors and dentists to meet its actual needs.

As for training places: in 1980 the Tory government of the day decided, based on some rather spurious forecast of future medical and dental trends, to close three dental training hospitals across the UK. One was my alma matter Edinburgh Dental Hospital. The British Dental Association and others tried to point out the utter madness of this decision but dental hospitals were closed and medical training places cut back anyway.

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The Tory argument was that an increasingly healthy population would not need as many doctors and dentists, while the truth was it saved them money they did not have to pay to universities for expensive medical and dental courses.

The SNP government has sought to improve the situation, anent dentists, by opening a new dental training hospital at Aberdeen but if you look at the graduate figures from BDA Scotland, an average of only around 40% of graduates from any Scottish-based dental training hospital will remain Scotland to practice. I would doubt the retention of new doctors, on completion of house officer training and full registration, will be much higher. This is down to the selection process for candidates under UCAS conditions of open entry which means many medical and dental course will end up with up to 60% of places going to non-Scottish candidates.

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The simplistic answer is to prioritise Scottish candidates, yet universities will be loathe to do this as non-Scottish candidates bring more money per head into their coffers than current tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Therein lies the conundrum which no Scottish Government nor Secretary of State for Scotland, of any stripe, has been willing to address nor will be able to adequately address this side of independence: the process of candidate selection under UCAS or the steep increase required in current tuition fees for Scottish entrants into medical and dental courses.

Peter Thomson BDS

I HAVE to agree with the recent letter from Brian Lawson regarding his concerns about Scotland’s health service but also the lack of action to find alternative taxation methods – such as an annual ground rent – which could raise significant amounts for our NHS and other public services.

Brian – and other letter writers – have explained the concern over the lack of qualified doctors and nurses etc. It’s not enough to say Scotland is doing better than every other region of the UK if we’re still struggling to get enough staff.

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There is also a concern that the last two major proposals from the current Health Secretary – Humza Yousaf – have been criticised by Humza himself! He now wants to delay the National Care Service to have more open discussions with unions and other bodies, which they have been seeking for months, and is also planning to scrap his current consultation on restricting alcohol advertising in Scotland. It seems strange that both policies were signed off by the very same person who now intends to delay or scrap them. It’s not a very clear sign of leadership that Humza has changed his mind on both policies during the current leadership campaign – did he not see the problems previously or was he not paying attention when he launched both policies?

This raises serious concerns about his leadership abilities – if there was no leadership contest would he simply have ploughed ahead with both policies which he now regards as flawed?

Cllr Kenny MacLaren