REGARDING Lesley Riddoch’s article about Norway’s healthcare system (How tough love on healthcare pays off for Norwegians, The National, January 25), where the population pay a fee to see a GP, Lesley asks whether Scotland can learn from this system, and she does say that the levels of inequality in Scotland compared to Norway mean that such a system would not be fair. I wholeheartedly agree with this.

She mentions that the Norwegian system is meant to discourage people from going to the GP with “trivial complaints”. When people attend a GP they do not always know if their symptoms are “trivial” or not. That is why the NHS being free at the point of delivery is so important. Many people “don’t want to bother the doctor” even in our current system, even when they have quite serious symptoms. To add a charge would be very unfair and would deter people on lower incomes far more than those who are higher earners. Serious illnesses could be diagnosed later, making them harder to treat. Also, part of the GP’s role is to weigh up (in conjunction with the patient) how serious symptoms are and what needs to be done. Sometimes people aren’t sure whether to be worried or not, and reassurance, if appropriate, is a key part of our role.

I think the problems with Scotland’s NHS, as with the NHS across the UK, is a lack of resources through Westminster austerity policy. The Scottish Government through Shona Robison are doing their best to mitigate this, but in my opinion, while Scotland’s Budget allocation is tied in to that of Westminster, especially under a Conservative government, our resources will be limited.
Catriona Wardrop

A VERY thoughtful article from Shona Craven, which did highlight that you have to write in to be published (Scotland in Union’s cabal of letter writers isn’t our real problem, The National, February 2). However, I think she overlooks the fact that women may be writing in and not published.

I know from my own experience that it took five attempts before my first letter was published, and since then at least as many again have been sent in and not appeared in print. The topics not published range from religion, abortion and the establishment, to Catalonia, the EU and my own favourite, a reply I wrote to Michael Fry’s smug justification of tax avoidance.

I remember wondering at the time why everyone seemed okay with his article. Perhaps they were not? His are certainly not standard views for a (pretty much) left-wing paper like The National. Were these unprinted offerings of mine too controversial, or not controversial enough? If I write in on the EU it is usually printed, perhaps an editorial effort to keep the EU argument going on the letters page? Maybe there is editorial bias in what gets published. You never find out why a letter does not get published.

Maybe another reason, if women do not write in, could be that many are just busy with the running of their families and households and cannot justify to themselves taking time out to voice an opinion. Or maybe it is that there is often outright hostility from men to women’s views which are published, in a way which largely does not happen to men, and the day after your letter is published, you brace yourself for the backlash. I have also yet to see a rebuttal letter of mine printed to someone who has slammed into me, and I have sent in a couple. Okay if you are a tough cookie, but it still gets trying.

Perhaps Shona should look not just at how many women’s letters are published, but at the volume which are sent in via mail or email – but nonetheless an interesting intervention.
Julia Pannell
Friockheim, Tayside

JIM Addison (Letters, February 4) is wise to draw attention to the Planning Bill and how it should deal with the development of new housing, but we don’t need to look at how foreign countries satisfied demand for housing from top to bottom. In Scotland, five new towns were established and they supplied new housing for sale and rent. All that’s required now is to add the need for new housing to exceed current requirements for good quality architecture and energy use.

Perhaps there should also be a constant supply of rented housing instead of “affordable housing”.
Kenneth HW Campbell