YEP Letters: October 26

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Rail dispute has gone on too long

Mel Smart, Farsley

The rail dispute has gone on far too long. Does no one know about ACAS and arbitration? This is the way to solve it.

There must be a second person on the train. What their designation is is neither here nor there. Safety must be the first concern and there are several concerns. Firstly, should anything happen to the driver, who would report it? Secondly, how would the disabled and partially sighted be able to board the train? Not to mention the amount of vandalism which would be incurred on an unmanned train. And what of safety to women and girls, particularly after dark? The Rail Minister should have had all these matters in hand months ago. Not for nothing is he known as Failing Grayling.

Clear thinking needed on new hospitals plan

Dr John Puntis, Leeds ‘Keep Our NHS Public’

Although I welcome Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust (LTHT) impressive plan for two new hospitals, I am concerned that funding will involve a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal.

The Trust publicly acknowledges that finding money “will be challenging” because nationally “there are many requests for capital funding”. Chronic under resourcing of the NHS has led to a crisis where Trusts in England now have a collective deficit of £4.3bn, and owe the Department of Health a further £7.3bn for loans.

Existing PFI deals, according to the National Audit Office, mean that over the next 25 years the taxpayer will spend more than £200bn effectively servicing the debts incurred.

PFI is an incredibly expensive accounting trick, with the cost of privately financing public projects up to 40 per cent higher than when there is direct government borrowing. PFI projects at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick and the Royal Liverpool Hospital, each worth around £350m, have recently been abandoned and belatedly replaced by public funding after the disastrous collapse of the construction firm Carillion.

To realise its ambitions the LTHT Board must argue strongly for public rather than private investment.

The proposed reduction in Leeds bed numbers is difficult to understand given rising population and increasing demand for hospital care.

Last winter LTHT were forced to manage around 40 patients a day in corridors and treatment rooms, and were severely criticised by the Care Quality Commission. Over the past decade the independent ‘Health Foundation’ has documented a 28 per cent increase in emergency admissions across England, and any hopes that the much trumpeted “integration” of services will reduce this number are proving unfounded.

The people of Leeds deserve state of the art hospitals, but they also deserve leadership and clear thinking both from LTHT and councillors on health scrutiny and wellbeing committees.

A true visionary

B Smith, Leeds 7

The picture of Alderman Alfred Tallant at Park Lane College, in 1979, (YEP, October 20) evoked many memories.

A visionary, Alfred Tallant contributed much to adult education in Leeds, principally at Swarthmore and at many other institutions. He truly believed that education was a lifelong process, not confined to an elite and open to all. Alfred Tallant, the shoe maker from Beeston left us a precious legacy.

In the mid-fifties, when there was a severe shortage of school teachers in Leeds, it was said that he stood up in council and pointed out that the city not only had many people who had much to offer to education but also, given the chance, would welcome the experience of trying to be teachers.

As a result of his vision, the Leeds Day Training College, later to become James Graham College at Farnley, was established. It is probable that over 1000 mature students, from all walks of life and largely over 25 years of age, trained there and joined the teaching force in Leeds and surrounding districts.

They added a fresh dimension to the schools that they served and confirmed Alfred Tallant’s vision, that indeed we continue to learn throughout our whole lives. Alfred Tallant ’s vision opened the gates of educational opportunity for many.

Discussion about death

Dr John Chisholm, BMA medical ethics committee.

RESPONDING to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) report Talking about dying: How to begin honest conversations about what lies ahead, open, honest and sensitive conversations about death between doctors, patients and their loved ones are crucial if patients are to receive the best end-of-life care possible, but this does not mean those conversations are easy.

This report reflects the BMA’s own research, which found how difficult many doctors find approaching the subject with their patients, and called for better support and training for clinicians in how to initiate these conversations.

We therefore welcome the RCP’s report, which explores the reasons why doctors may not be talking to patients about dying and makes a number of useful recommendations.

How we can share planet

John Riseley, Harrogate.

SCIENTISTS warn of substantial or extreme climate change, depending upon how radically we mend our ways regarding CO2 emissions.

They are slower to mention that the degree of change, and whether we can accommodate it without catastrophe, will also depend on how much room for manoeuvre the ongoing rise in population leaves us.

It is paramount in the possible crises ahead that we don’t descend into warfare to take each other’s resources. We must learn to share the planet, but this is a dangerously ambiguous term.

Making an analogy with sharing food, there is the model where we are each served our meal which we can eat at our own pace or save for later as we wish. Then there is the buffet model of sharing in which the fastest eaters get most. Applying the latter, more liberal, sense of ‘‘sharing’’ to population and territory, we have freedom of movement resulting in the fastest breeders getting most. This hardly offers an incentive for restraint. That is why we need to compartmentalise, as we would with the structure of a ship to prevent it from sinking, and stop the large scale net movement of people as population overspill.

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