YEP Letters: March 14

Dave Callaghan
Dave Callaghan
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Check out today’s YEP letters

Tribute to cricket commentator Cally

Peter Keighley, by email

On Monday evening we learned of the passing of BBC Radio Leeds cricket commentator Dave Callaghan following a heart attack, aged 63.

What a huge shock this will have been to many people in and outside the Broad Acres of Yorkshire.

He was a consummate professional. I had the pleasure of meeting “Cally” on numerous occasions and he was the same person off mic as he was on – kind, cheery, never had a bad word to say and admired and respected by all his peers as well as those he helped to entertain over many years.

Cricket commentary will just not be same this coming season without Cally and whoever replaces him covering Yorkshire’s matches in 2018 will have massive shoes to fill. Rest in peace, Cally, and thank you.

Act now to make sure NHS is properly funded

Dawn Fuller, by email

I read with interest the article by Don Mort in Friday’s YEP, ‘NHS battle against winter strain on A&E’.

Professor Suzanne Hinchliffe, quoted within the article, seems to strongly imply that an increasing number of older people are the main reason for the pressure on health services and the increase in A&E waiting time.

This is only one of a number of significant factors such as the ever increasing price of drugs, whilst pharmaceutical companies boast ever increasing profits and the growth of chronic conditions like diabetes.

But the outstanding reason that our NHS is under the immense strain we are now witnessing is down to political will of the current Government and the Cameron-led coalition Government before it. This Government has consistently underfunded the NHS. An average of just 0.5% increase annually is in real terms a cut and an estimated £20-30bn underfunding compared to countries like Germany, France and Sweden.

The continued austerity agenda contributes to the pressure on our A&E departments. The lack of mental health services and chronic underfunding, despite Jeremy Hunt’s disingenuous assertions to the contrary, mean more people do not receive the support they need and end up crisis; swingeing £4.5bn cuts to Social Services mean people are not receiving the support they need, so the NHS becomes the provider of last resort; unprecedented cuts to local authority budgets result in cuts to services again often leading to more use of A&E.

When I was young it wasn’t just roads that were gritted in the snow, it was pavements too. If funding was at a reasonable level to deliver adequate public services, how many trips and slips could be prevented by that small change?

Then there’s the undermining of staff terms and conditions inevitably causing retention and recruitment issues. Nursing vacancies are at an all time high of 34,000. Clearly, hospitals cannot operate effectively with such a huge gap in their staffing capacity.

Creeping back door privatisation and the current STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plans) are adding their own problems and they are certainly not sustainable. The West Yorkshire STP is actually seeking cuts of £1bn across the region. Furthermore, these changes are being pushed through without any parliamentary accountability or scrutiny.

The long waiting times in A&E this winter were both predicted and predictable. NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens warned the Government before the budget that the NHS could not continue to endure further underfunding after nearly a decade of austerity.

It is extremely disappointing to note that the YEP article offered no real journalistic challenge or analysis.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health since 2012, regularly visits the United States to learn from their health care system, the one that sees hundreds of thousands of ill people bankrupted every year trying to pay for their treatment. He has also co-authored a book calling for the NHS to be privatised.

I would urge your readers to find out more about the changes that are well underway in our NHS. The next step, the introduction of Accountable Care Organisations/Systems (ACO/Ss) are only now being temporarily postponed because of legal challenges being made by citizens like Professor Stephen Hawkins and others less well known.

If we don’t act now to keep our NHS public and ensure it is properly funded the waiting times in A&E will be the least of our problems.

Transport ideas for Leeds

D Angood, by email

Re CV Barton’s missive (YEP Letters, March 12) and his message to Chris Grayling that he should approve the supertram and re-open rail lines and stations closed under Beeching.

Whilst seeing the reason for his suggestions one has to look at the situation today and neither of his options are viable.

The supertram would in no way have the desired impact that is needed in respect of an area wide mass transit system. Reopening of lines and stations is virtually impossible in regard to many that are now built upon.

Few, if any, have the area needed for both a station and the parking area needed to attract commuters off the roads.

Take, for instance, the Leeds to Bradford line, stations were at Holbeck, Armley Moor, Bramley, Stanningley and Laisterdyke with a branch serving Pudsey Lowtown and Greenside.

Of these only Bramley (reopened in 1983) has the capability to become a park and ride station because of the land that catered for the goods lines.

Space at the others has all but been eliminated though track re-alignment may provide space for new stations such as at Greenthorpe where the original four track beds still offer a viable space.

Thinking inside the box has to be given some credence in the context of park and ride and also for those close enough to walk to and from.

There are many with 
similar ideas that may offer a plausible solution but the problem is, and always has been, getting the powers that be to accept these and progress these ideas to either prove or disprove their feasibility and viability.

Statistics distort the truth

A Padley, Burley-in-Wharfedale.

I WAS disappointed and dismayed to read that the fall in percentage of patients seen within four hours in A&E was called ‘worsening performance.’

Surely targets like this are only as good as the realism shown by the target-setter? Alongside these percentages, we should be told how many people were attending A&E compared to previous months.

If the number of people trying to access the facility increases, you cannot expect the percentage of people seen within the four hours to remain the same.

If the brilliant staff have reached their maximum capacity, the number of people they can see will not increase.

Please do not demoralise our superb hospital staff by headlining these unhelpful statistics which distort the truth.

‘Olden days’ were tougher for doctors

Elisabeth Baker, Leeds.

MY heart bleeds for Dr Richard Vautrey and his present-day GP colleagues.

If they want to know what hard work and really long hours are, they need look no further than my late father and maternal grandfather and uncle.

All three were single-handed family doctors who were responsible for their own patients 24/7, 365 days a year. Being paid per capita for the patients, the more work they did, the greater their expenses and the less they earned. If they took time off, they had to find a locum and pay that locum. When we were small children, we frequently did not see Daddy in the evenings as he would usually have house calls to make after his evening surgery, as well as those made during the day.

He sometimes sat up all night with sick patients about whom he was concerned, as did my grandfather and uncle.

On one occasion my mother thought that my father had not returned from a night call, but eventually he was found in the car in the garage – fast asleep.

I could give very many more examples of the differences for a doctor’s family in the “olden days” from the arms-length, frequently impersonal “service” received by many patients today. In those days being a family doctor was a vocation, not a part-time job.

EU problems solved?

J Patrick, Pontefract

Twenty years ago I wrote a letter suggesting that Britain and the Republic of Ireland leave the Federal European Superstate and for our own trading alliance.

At that time, the Republic of Ireland was a net recipient of some £6bn annually from the EU and Britain a net contributor of some £36bn annually. I said that if both the Republic of Ireland and Britain left the EU together, we could form a trading alliance which would see Ireland receiving at least £6bn annually in British/Irish trade agreements, leaving Britain some £30bn better off annually. Twenty years later I still believe this would be a good deal and an even greater foundation for the future of our countries. Problems solved?

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