CALL me an old cynic, but I was unsurprised at the hospital chosen to host the First Minister’s recent NHS recovery plan photo-shoot (£1bn proposal to help health, August 26). The Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank has no accident and emergency facilities. The First Minister was able to be seen on our TV screens and newspapers operating a high-tech surgical robot without the rather embarrassing backdrop of a queue of patients lying on trolleys waiting to be seen by exhausted medical staff. The Health Secretary was able to stand in the background admiring the whole scene.

It seems the Government is simply unable to estimate the scale of the NHS treatment backlog, and as the photo-shoot took place, another heath board, NHS Lanarkshire, was announcing it was stopping all elective surgery – including the type of surgery the First Minister was trying to demonstrate.

The previous day, Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride was featured in the news with six ambulances queuing outside waiting to take their patients into to the accident and emergency department. Only 60% of their patients are being admitted or discharged within the four-hour target time.

A billion pounds of a recovery fund sounds like a lot of money but I understand this headline figure is to be spread over five years. In comparison, in its 2021-22 one-year budget, the Scottish Government allocated a total of £12.2 billion for frontline health services, defined as NHS Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards as well as national boards such as the Scottish Ambulance Service and Public Health Scotland.

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The SNP-Greens “deal” is currently being finalised, subject to a members’ ballot. The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party Draft Shared Policy Programme includes a pledge (page nine) to “during this parliamentary session, invest over £5bn in maintaining, improving and decarbonising Scotland’s rail network”. I have to wonder if this should be a priority in the light of the current and obvious crisis in our health service.

Patients waiting in ambulances to join the end of the queue of patients lying on trolleys in our accident and emergency departments cannot, and should not, be waiting for five years for the situation to improve.
Iain Wilson

THERE is no need for a referendum as we already have pro-indy majorities in Holyrood and Westminster. We should recall the MPs, form a Scottish Grand Committee and vote on whether or not to dissolve the Union. After a positive vote we start negotiating with the English Government, the only other signatories in 1707. That is a well-established democratic route, though a confirmatory referendum, under our control and franchise, could be held later. Why are you waiting, Ian and Nicola?
Ann Rayner
Posted online

THE National has this week reported on the forthcoming judge-led Covid inquiry. Scotland, in the vanguard of progress, as usual.

Although the terms of the inquiry will be highly circumscribed, and limited to Scottish Government competencies, I hope it will encompass the evaluation of error and the direction of future resilience.

The Covid public health crisis being also a political and existential crisis, I hope therefore that the scope of the inquiry will consider the following:

Whether United Kingdom policies of austerity, disinvestment and the hollowing of public services had any material intervention.

The efficacy of extended periods of mandated mass internment, mass incarceration, arbitrary detention and close confinement.

The deleterious fiscal, structural and social effects of periods of close confinement and arbitrary detention.

The long-term social and political effects of the forced surrender of civil liberties.

Human rights infringements arising from the above, and whether the requirement for the forced surrender of personal details and data in public situations amounted to unwarranted breaches of data protections.

If mandatory directives in public hygiene and its associated appurtenances exercised any useful effect, or amounted to nothing more than reassuring, but restrictive and invasive, performative public theatre and neo-fetishistic rituals of public cleansing.

The future direction of investment in public health and education.

The future direction of investment in accessible, safe and well-maintained public green open spaces.

The accuracy and efficacy of public information: the quality of data and the mode of presentation of statistics and public health guidelines to the general public.

How the quality, accuracy and efficacy of advice rendered by unelected medical and scientific advisers is evaluated: the measure by which interventions by unelected medical and scientific advisers can be adjudged to be imperative, or more characteristic of a political stance or a default to a mode of scientism and empiricism, potentially injurious to public health, safety and welfare.
Keith Steiner