YEP letters: December 13

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Among todays letters are an open letter to the Health Secretary from a Leeds professor, written following his experiences of Leeds hospitals, a plea for a priority for park and ride buses and happy memories of shelling Brazil nuts at Christmas.

The following letter is an extract from an open letter written by University of Leeds Professor Ray Bush to the Health Secretary over cancelled operations and winter bed pressures:

I wanted to offer you greetings of the season, even though I know your generosity lacks a Christmas spirit.

I have wanted to write for some time, to commend the health professionals in the NHS in Leeds who have unfailingly helped me with my health crises since January 2015.

I cannot say the same about the agency staff that I have encountered. There must be some excellent professional agency personnel, but my encounters were rather negative and frightening. They have a familiar regime of working many shifts, turning up for work already overtired, irritable and, in those conditions, they may jeopardise patient health. It remains unclear to many why you prefer to undermine nurse training and instead fork out more taxpayers’ money on temporary, more highly-paid, but usually less well trained staff.

I have been thinking about you a lot recently because my long-awaited surgery was cancelled at St James’s hospital last month, just hours before it was scheduled to take place.

I had been told in June that the surgery would be in July or August, but with no communication until October when I was finally given a date. Euphoria turned to intense anger, and overwhelming frustration, to hear there just weren’t enough beds because the winter weather delivered an increased seasonal demand on Leeds teaching hospitals.

But that was not the full picture. The truth is that your failure to meet the needs of health provision has meant that there is a continuous excessive pressure on beds in the city which is now no longer relieved in warmer months. The allocation of central funding is simply inadequate to meet demand. You keep repeating the mantra that ‘we are putting more money than ever before into the NHS’ – but this isn’t the point, is it? UK investment in health is among the lowest of all developed economies.

I have never been an advocate for erstwhile PM Tony Blair but his Labour governments did do two important things: reduce child poverty and increase NHS spending as a percentage of GDP.

He increased the percentage spending from 6.3 per cent of GDP in 2000 to 8.8 per cent in 2009. Yet, by then, EU countries were spending 10.1 per cent of GDP on health.

If we were to receive the service a country like the UK deserves, and to see it in comparison with average EU spending we will need an extra £43bn to be spent on the NHS by 2020.

Instead of necessary funding increases we only hear the imperatives of austerity. Yet a nation’s health must never be jeopardised by cuts and economic targets. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has a strategic plan 2014-2019. It includes the wonderful headline slogans of being patient-centred, fair, collaborative, accountable and empowering for patients.

For any of these laudable mantras to be delivered the NHS needs a massive injection of funds. I still have no new date for my surgery, but have to repeat pre-assessment tests anyway because they are now out of date, an additional use of NHS resources, and I have been told very honestly that even if I got a new date the likelihood is that it will be cancelled: there are just not enough beds.

Happy Christmas.

Simple tips to save money

Liz Goodwill, by email

There is a simple way to save money, get rid of half at least of all the councillors, whose only job is just that!

They could start at the top, and then stop paying “private” contractors to do a job that 30 years ago council employees did.

Oh, and while you’re at it, stop wasting money on hairbrained schemes that don’t work, like cycle lanes, leaving homes empty instead of collecting rent by filling them, having meetings to “discuss meetings” and probably worst of all, sending three letters to tell you the same thing.

May seem simple, but I bet the ones who actually have to pay for all this could think of several things more!

The joy of Brazil nuts lost

George Marsden, Colton, Leeds

TODAY Brazil nuts don’t come into the home the way they used to-in their difficult-to-crack shells.

Men and women and machines in factories in faraway places will have removed the outer layers so the nuts are ready-to-eat in bags. That’s progress,I suppose. But have we lost some of the joy they can bring?

I remember long-ago day’s spent with my family,cracking Brazil nuts as we sat by the coal fire at Christmas, and what a pleasure it was when we finally got a nut out of its shell!

Blind charity needs support

Sammi Shapero, Sandringham Drive, Alwoodley, Leeds

I AM writing to you regarding vision rehabilitation services for blind and partially sighted people living in my local 

When a person loses their sight, this can be a life-changing experience. Vision rehabilitation offers invaluable support, equipping people with the skills and confidence to live independently. This can reduce, prevent or delay the need for more expensive care support in future.

As national charity RNIB has stated, blind and partially sighted people are at risk of being left behind unless these services are properly resourced.

I understand that councils across England are now deciding on their budgets for the coming year, and urge our local council to ensure that vision rehabilitation services are properly funded and supported.

If anyone else would like to do the same, or find out more about this campaign, they can go to www.rnib.org.uk/seeandplan or contact the RNIB Campaigns Team on 020 7391 2123.

Flooding issue will worsen

Carol Lee, Cookridge

I THINK it is a marvellous idea to have a railway station to serve the airport even if it means still having to use a shuttle bus for the short distance to the entrance .

Network Rail must have already been in talks about this proposal when they were told about the planning application for 135 houses at Soggy Bottom. Yes they did object at first to the application but then later acquiesced.

Network Rail are well aware of the problems of flooding on the line in the Cookridge area which occurs several times a year. This will increase when Soggy Bottom is covered in concrete and the displaced water runs into the beck which will overflow even more on to the line. It’s bad enough when commuters are late for work but I can foresee some unhappy bunnies missing their planes!

Get airport train plan right

Philip Farrar, by email

Why is LCC talking about a rail link on the Harrogate line that stops 1 mile short of the airport?

Either do the job right and take it right to the doorstep so people may actually use it or develop a new airport at Church Fenton.

Come on councillors get a grip, show some conviction and stop wasting our money.