JUNIOR doctors in England are striking because the UK Government has deliberately underfunded and undervalued them. How bad is England’s NHS? Cancer treatment waiting times and ambulance response times are at an all-time high, and the hospital waiting list treatment target hasn’t been met since 2016.

UK life expectancy lags behind all other G7 countries except the US because of widening inequality and higher rates of poverty.

READ MORE: Why junior doctors aren't on strike in Scotland this week

In Scotland, where health is reserved, NHS performance figures are better than England’s. But because Holyrood is a devolved government, lacking the power to create and borrow money, when England slashes health funding, Scotland is negatively impacted and has to find the money to mitigate these cuts from elsewhere in our Westminster “allowance”.

So, when Scottish Tory and Labour politicians gleefully attack NHS Scotland, remember that they are from the same London-based parties who have decimated the NHS in England. The Westminster plan all along has been to starve this vital public service of money and then claim it’s not working so it can be turned over to private health insurance companies. The Tories and now Starmer’s New Labour have midwived a monster – the disastrous US “health-care” model – and are imposing it on England.

FM Yousaf has promised that his government will be “radical, ambitious and progressive”. But if it remains within the UK straitjacket, it can’t be. If Scots want to rescue their health service, they must take back control of the wealth of their nation.

Leah Gunn Barrett

KATE Forbes is right, we need to ensure that rural areas get support to ensure that they can make their community viable in the future.

In my experience of living in Uig in north Skye, this support need not be a long-term subsidy, indeed support of a short-term nature with public investment is often the best type of support, which can lead to long-term economic activity in the community.

Some years ago, when I was living in Uig district, the community was hit by what looked at the time to be a devastating economic blow. The owner of the hotel went bankrupt and closed the hotel, and the filling station with the attached shop.

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This arose at a time when Caledonian MacBrayne were talking about changing their crossing of the Minch from Uig and moving to Dunvegan. This meant that any business wanting to invest in the Uig area was unlikely to get a bank loan because of the possible closure of the ferry service.

The situation seemed impossible for the community.

However, the community set up a not-for-profit community business and set about addressing the economic situation themselves.

They got public grants to buy and refurbish the filling station and shop, which they rented out to a local family to run. They found a buyer for the hotel, which was reopened, and they had meetings with CalMac who decided to continue sailing from Uig.

This provided the jobs required in the local area to sustain the community and provide the services required for the tourist trade.

This local community business is still in operation to this day and the community services are still available to locals and tourists. There are many examples of community economic activities in rural Scotland, and with government assistance in terms of grants and loans and advice this would be a good way to help these areas help themselves.

Andy Anderson

ANDY Anderson (Letters, Apr 4) is right to point out that we need to lay the groundwork for a new currency but his response to my letter implies I was saying we can’t or shouldn’t do anything until later.

This is an incorrect interpretation, as of course we have to be ready to go, which means we must prepare. I was not saying we should do nothing until we are actually independent, but reminding those demanding decisions and structures now that what we can do for now is limited.

We cannot implement or make final decisions on many things until we have the sovereign authority to do so, and until then all we can do is identify the range of options that will be open to us. What we choose to do once independent or during the transition period depends entirely on the international circumstances at the time. This is why it is all but impossible and unrealistic to decide now what we will do then, and we don’t even know what we will or perhaps not inherit post-separation!

For now all we can do is make suppositions. This is exactly the issue faced by Alex Salmond and the rest of us in 2014.

What we can and should be doing is publishing an annual draft budget in parallel with the “real” one that shows how we would do things if we had full fiscal autonomy. This needs to be accompanied by a draft constitution which together shows how will govern ourselves and is part and parcel of giving comfort to the undecided enabling them to see the benefits of a viable future vision opportunity.

These are all better addressed by the wider Yes community, with the SNP providing the environment for them to do so. As we know, a political party leading this will always end up polarising debate around party lines – which invariably, by conflating current needs, gets in the way of thinking about that vision. Focussing on the now gets in the way of thinking about and delivering a better future, which is why the Unionists insist on the "day job" – part of their "‘divide and rule" strategy!

Nick Cole
Meigle, Perthshire