IN last Sunday’s Feedback section, Hugh Noble of Appin is quite correct to point to the PFI agreements on hospitals dreamed up by Blair and Brown, at the end of last century, as being a major contributory factor in the present NHS crisis.

I remember being told by one of the ward sisters from the heart department of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh that their ICU department was to be reduced from 14 beds to eight beds in the new Royal Infirmary. I don’t know if that came to pass, but the idea was that the government was going to introduce a more health-conscious lifestyle to Scotland so that folks wouldn’t get ill so often and those extra beds would not be needed. How utterly delusional!

If you couple that with the fact that, as part of the PFI deal, the developers were given the sites of the Northern General Hospital, the Eastern General Hospital, the Old Royal Infirmary, the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital, the City Hospital, and the Sick Kids’ Hospital for development purposes, then it’s no wonder we are suffering from bed blockages, with the loss of all that hospital accommodation.

It has proved to be very lucrative for the developers and a financial disaster for the citizens of Edinburgh and the people of Scotland generally. There was an article in the press many years ago which indicated that the developers had already made in excess of £200 million in pure profit from those sites up to that date, and some of them – including the prime site of the Sick Kids’ Hospital – had not yet been started on.

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Take into account the loss of staff that was suffered in 2016 and 17 when so many Eastern European nurses and doctors returned home, following Brexit, rather than pay the exorbitant sums the Westminster government was, and still is, demanding for applications to stay – without any assurance that the application will be successful – and you have guaranteed medical chaos.

This, of course, reverberates on the rest of the NHS and affects the ambulance service and GP doctors, and their surgeries, as we are presently finding out. So, the purpose seems to be the reduction in the value of our NHS and a cheap sale to the American drug companies. Naturally, they will have

to be given some sort of guarantee that any foreign staff they need to bring in will automatically be granted leave to stay here and work here. Probably at much lower wages than are presently paid.

This makes me wonder why the SNP didn’t start an independence campaign immediately after Brexit in 2016, and keep it going until Westminster was forced into negotiating for independence. I would just remind everyone, including SNP members, MPs and MSPs, that the founding principle of the SNP was not to “get a referendum on independence”. It was to “get independence”. On that basis, the people of Scotland, having elected them into power for several years now, might well expect them to start fulfilling the purposes for which the party was set up; i.e. pushing for independence and not for a referendum on it.

Instead, they seem, by their actions, to be set on destroying each and every means of achieving it. First, they took the matter of a referendum to the English Supreme Court, instead of insisting on the Scottish Claim of Right that the people of Scotland are sovereign, and not Parliament. Now there’s a ban imposed on having such a referendum without permission from Westminster.

Next, they seem set on using a Westminster election as a de facto referendum that they are likely to lose, since no political party has ever gained a majority in Westminster elections. This will block any possibility of taking our case to the international community or even asking Westminster for another referendum for the foreseeable future. Westminster will claim: “You’ve had two referendums and you lost both.” It will then be another generation before the next one. Am I daft in thinking: “That’s maybe what they want, because they are quite comfortable with the wages that they are all presently receiving”? Why would they risk a change that might lose them their jobs?

Charlie Kerr


ARTICLES in your paper, and our First Minister, often refer to how any attempts for us to regain our independence must be legal.

And by whose laws should these attempts be judged?

There are no laws in Scotland that prevent us holding a referendum, however, our “Scottish” government has been cleverly constituted under English law, which prohibits many actions that a proper Scottish government would simply get on with.

Scotland is a country that is joined in treaty with another country, England – these facts are not disputed.

That treaty needs set aside, after centuries of misuse by England. But that process is a legal one, not a democratic one. However, our MPs have the legal right to secede from it, and our MPs DO have the democratic authority to speak on our behalf.

Our MPs can and must now call in the UN, the European Council and the ECHR – let’s involve those august bodies in a debate in Edinburgh. The press too.

Debate that secession matter in Scotland, with the voting body being all Scottish elected MPs and MSPs, then act on the debate’s conclusion.

Democracy can be measured in a people being able to choose the government by the majority of its people!

When did Scotland last do that?

Scotland has been, and is being, denied its democratic rights, by English law!

London says we don’t have rights, but it actually means “Holyrood”.

The UN says we do, by which it means us, the people of Scotland, the Scots!

C’mon, who are we going to trust?

We, a clearly discernible people, in a well-defined and mapped country, with our own laws and educational system, are governed by another country. A country renowned for its worldwide colonisation and its tardiness in releasing its talons, and tardier yet in compensating those it robbed!

Although it is now clear that “Our Government” may not act on our behalf in this regard, it should be understood that the SNP themselves are NOT so constrained and have our MPs to call upon to act in this matter, which they can, and must.

Action cannot be put off for a year or two, or three, or four! This is an emergency!

Enough is enough.

Christopher Bruce


THE difference between passive aggression and active aggression is the same as the difference between Union Jackery and Alister Jackery!

Bill Drew


THE inspiration for this letter is a wonderful woman with learning difficulties, who was my dad’s cousin. She lived with her mum, who was overly protective of her, but after her mum died, she had absolutely no relatives or friends to keep an eye on her. She could live independently but was a very vulnerable person.

My mum, who was separated from my dad by then, be-friended her, basically taking her under her wing. After my mum died in 2017, I did the same until she very sadly passed away around 16 months ago. I now feel very strongly that society is not properly geared up for the needs of those with learning difficulties, particularly those that have no close relatives or friends to help them.

Channel 4 did a piece about the short film entitled “An Irish Goodbye” that has already been nominated for a Bafta and is now up for an Oscar. The actor James Martin from Belfast stars in the film. He has Down’s Syndrome. James was interviewed on the programme and came across as a really likeable character, well able to promote the film on behalf of its makers.

I have only seen clips of the film but it’s clear from them that James, who performs really well, plays one of the main characters, and from what I can gather that’s very unusual. Other Down’s Syndrome characters in soaps normally make only occasional appearances such as Coronation Street’s Alex Warner, who sometimes works in Roy Cropper’s café, played by Liam Bairstow, and the child actor Grace who plays Janet Mitchell in East Enders.

Although this is encouraging, I strongly feel that even nowadays, in 2023, people with learning difficulties generally are not encouraged to participate as fully as they can in mainstream society.

The world would be in a much healthier place if there were many more folk like James Martin taking a prominent place in public life. After all, I’ve had my fill of what some might describe as “normal” people who society – or in autocratic countries, a few individuals – deem to be suitable to reach the dizzying heights of leading their countries.

Unfortunately, many of these “normal” people are variously responsible for so much pain, suffering, death, poverty, hatred and the destruction of our planet. They just trip off the tongue, like Putin, Xi Jinping, Trump, Bolsonaro, Bashar al-Assad, “our” very own loveable rogue (not!) Johnson and many more, too many to mention.

Naw, for me, the world has had its bucketful of streetwise, cynical folk, on the surface “charismatic” but full of BS, that do no end of harm to the planet and its population. What the likes of James Martin should do is make us all re-evaluate the worth of everyone in society, not just in terms of intelligence but, for me, an outdated definition of merit.

I really hope any future independent Scotland is a place that welcomes everyone with learning difficulties to flourish, to reach their potential and, crucially, for them to be visible in society!

Ivor Telfer

Dalgety Bay, Fife

DIABETES is serious. Living with it can be relentless. And if people with diabetes do not receive regular checks and appointments with their healthcare teams, they are at increased risk of devastating, life-altering complications and, sadly, early death.

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Worryingly, thousands of people living with diabetes are still struggling to access this vital care. We want to make sure they aren’t left behind. We want to make sure they can get the high-quality diabetes care and support they need and deserve.

Health professionals are working tirelessly to catch up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they need support and resources to ensure that people with diabetes are receiving essential care. That’s why we’re asking people living with or affected by diabetes to take our quick survey.

Whether it’s telling us about cancelled appointments, not receiving essential diabetes checks or struggling to access diabetes technology, we want to hear about your experiences so we can take the results from this survey straight to the Government and health system leaders.

So please take our survey, share it with anyone you know living with the condition and help us make sure everyone with diabetes gets the care and support they need, when they need it. It closes on February 20 and can be found here:

If you’d like to find out more about the Diabetes UK campaign to improve diabetes care visit:

Angela Mitchell

National director, Diabetes Scotland