LETTERS: November 25

Today your topics up for discussion are the litter free streets of bygone Leeds, the real meaning of austerity, the state of the NHS and the fallout from the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

Friday, 25th November 2016, 9:15 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:40 pm
A litter-free North Street in Leeds, 1872.

Back when our streets were spotless.


It fascinates me to view photos from the past in the YEP picture archive to see how areas once looked decades, if not centuries ago.

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History is frozen as people go about their daily lives and buildings are captured in their original glory.

One thing that truly stands out for me is how clean the streets are.

No matter what the era every pavement, shop front and garden hedge is in pristine condition. Did people back then take a little more pride in their community?

Or are we today just too busy with our lives to care how our streets look?

Real austerity is experienced by the very few


Comparatively few people in this country today are experiencing real austerity despite the opinions of many, including your columnist Mr Tapp.

At the risk of boring the young, may I tell people that during my wartime childhood the word austerity was justified. For example, we did not even see such a thing as a banana, let alone eat one.

Meat was rationed and measured in ounces per person per week. Even bread was rationed for years after the end of the war. And of course, none of today’s electronic wonders even existed. Only the few owned a car or could afford foreign travel even if they were able to obtain the measly amount of foreign currency.

Today, the picture is transformed. The most exotic foods from all over the planet are available on every high street. Entertainment by the world’s greatest performers is available in every home at the touch of a button.

People in the most humble employment are able to fly off in their millions on worldwide foreign holidays. In short, the benefits once enjoyed only by kings, potentates and the very rich are now enjoyed by the masses.

I don’t doubt that a great many people are in desperate circumstances through no fault of their own and must receive every help a civilised society can provide.

However, one wonders how many others, who claim to be experiencing austerity are in this state simply because they budget for what they want rather than what they need?

What happened to our caring?


A premature baby was left to die alone in a sluice in a Manchester hospital, according to news reports.

This is an example of a staggeringly low state of caring in some instances, and is arguably a result of political interference, bad management and lack of compassion.

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust’s review of its Royal Oldham and North Manchester General hospitals identified several “unacceptable situations”.

This statement alone sums up the ‘who-cares-anyway’ state of affairs in some institutions, when such a trauma is dismissed so lightly. The trust’s medical director, Prof Matthew Makin, said the review was carried out to “fully understand the issues and problems affecting services” and work out “what urgent action needed to be taken”. Isn’t it blindingly obvious why this happened? You don’t need to be a professor to understand that.

He said all reported incidents had been “investigated thoroughly” and families had met the trust’s head of midwifery to offer apologies for “any failings in care and to discuss the changes that have been made”.

He added the trust was now addressing the issues “through increased investment, improved staffing, focused training and the appointment of a new leadership team”.

What happened to human caring?

Why do those responsible for caring for others sometimes seem to consider that compassion and foresight are less important than ticking boxes, time limits and putting up with staff shortages, poor management and waste.

Surely a dying baby deserves every bit of the same care and human kindness as everyone else.

We need and deserve a superb health service, and the staff who provide that service deserve to be the best, have the best mentors and not be constrained by limits to their work responsibilities and nonsensical targets imposed by politicians or budget holders. Caring is not something to be fitted into a tick box, dealt with by those who are contending with lack of resources, or who may be so over stretched that they’ve lost their compassion.

Silence on NHS was deafening


Chancellor Hammond’s Autumn Statement starkly highlighted the abject failure of the last six years of Tory dominated government.

As government debt is at record levels and public borrowing projected to be at significant levels for the next five years.

All that has been achieved for people from ongoing austerity is depleted incomes, job uncertainty and dependence on food banks for huge numbers in work but receiving welfare benefits.

To counter the housing crisis, the chancellor announces finance for increased house building, including a modest increase in the number of affordable homes to be built. However, these measures ignore that current demand is for public rented property.

In other areas, very little additional finance is earmarked towards alleviating the crisis in social care provision .

Similarly, the NHS will be threatened by lack of funding as the NHS budget will not be ring-fenced in future years. This, therefore, ought to be of the utmost concern to the public as such an outcome will lead to further A&E and hospital closures.

Chancellor Hammond’s silence on this consequence for the NHS was deafening!

Finally, much was said about poor productivity in the UK.

This, however, can only be overcome by having an industrial economic strategy that prioritises science based and high technology
 industries, with money for research, development and technology training of future employees.

Let’s accept our wind farms


I am a concerned citizen of Leeds wondering how our city is going to help combat climate change.

Our Green councillors have done a great job by introducing solar panels to council houses but we need to do more.

Wind power is the cheapest form of low carbon technology and has already proved successful in Micklefield where residents have accepted their local wind farm with minimal complaints. I would love to see more wind farms around the city. This sustainable, clean energy source can then be used to power electric vehicles which would help combat the air pollution that we suffer from in Leeds.

Doctors not consulted over health plans

Dr Mark Porter, Chair of Council, British Medical Association

Following the publication of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) for West Yorkshire, it is extremely worrying that findings from a recent BMA survey reveal that over two thirds of doctors say they have not been consulted on the plans despite assurances from ministers.

With West Yorkshire facing a £46m health and social care deficit by 2021 it is of course a priority to address the need for urgent reform within our current model of working.

For any change of this magnitude however, plans must be developed in a transparent way with genuine attempts to engage both public and professional opinion – yet this has not happened with most STPs. In theory, these plans have the potential to generate more collaboration with the possibility of longer-term planning based on local need. But with vital services in Kirklees and Huddersfield, such as GP surgeries and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary potentially under threat, these plans need to be realistic, evidence based and adequately funded.

Most importantly, improving patient care must be the number one priority for these plans. We don’t want to see the government using these transformation plans as a cover for further starving services of resources and patients of care.