ON Saturday morning I listened to three knowledgeable people discuss the performance of the Scottish National Health Service and what it should look like: Sara Reid from the Nuffield Trust; the doctor leader of Scottish BMA Ian Kennedy; and Cam Donaldson, Professor of Health Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Ian Kennedy said that a grown-up conversation was needed, sanctioned by government but non-political, to resolve the issues. The issues have been visible for years and no rational plan has been applied. A new structure to enable the Scottish NHS get up off its knees? The problem is not at the front door (A&E), but at the back door, with a lack of social care packages preventing patients returning home or back into a care home.

It was welcoming that he stated that the BMA wants to see the Scottish NHS remain free at point of need with equity of delivery.

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The professor advised that problem was visible prior to the pandemic but converting the current system from a tax-based funding system to an insurance-based system would be disastrous and simply add more “unproductive cost” (aka fat) into the system processes.

Remind me who is it that would benefit from slicing off bits of this fat as a transaction charge? Would that be the health insurance companies?

Sara Reid told us that in the years prior to the pandemic the UK did not spend as much as Germany, Netherlands, Norway or Sweden on its health systems.

The Nuffield Trust has analysed the health systems across the European nations and provided the following data points, which are quoted in US dollars to provide a standard reference.

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The UK spends $3,000 per person; the Netherlands spends 30% more; Germany spends 40% more and Sweden spends 60% more. Germany actually uses an insurance-based system.

Her final points was crucial. These countries are all suffering from the same stresses that our UK and Scottish health services are suffering from. They have long waiting lists for operations and queues at A&E, but nowhere at the same level as here in the UK.

All of the experts state that “lack of funding” over the years prior to the pandemic is the cause of the current UK and Scottish NHS problems.

Alistair Ballantyne
Birkhill, Angus

CRAIG Meighan’s article on the agreement to pause strikes between the unions and Scottish government is a welcome relief for patients and staff of the health service in Scotland (Scottish NHS strike paused as unions negotiate Nicola Sturgeon pay offer, Jan 14).

Proof if needed that there is an irreconcilable fundamental difference between England and Scotland – the Westminster government is determined to break the trade unions, no matter the cost to patients and staff, for the benefit of the shareholders of the multinationals, while the Scottish Government views trade unions as an integral part of its strategy to improve the quality of life for the benefit of everyone living in Scotland.

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The health service unions deserve to be congratulated on their approach. Strikes don’t work by proxy, so there is no point in taking strike action against the Scottish Government when the purse strings are being pulled ever tighter by the Westminster government.

Although the negotiations will be complex, difficult and possibly unable to deliver the solution that the people, the unions and the government would like to see now, with goodwill on all sides they can produce the framework for improvements that will benefit everyone in years to come.

The Scottish public, trade unions and government have to remain united if they are to fight the centralisation of power and removal of our civil and human rights by this Westminster government.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

I AM totally pissed off with selective attacks by the Tories at Holyrood and so should every decent, honest member of Scottish society.

The Scottish Daily Express led on Monday with a “shocking” five-year wait for a medical scan. The story, from statistics obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, says “lives are being put at risk” as key tests on the NHS come with long waiting times. The headline is based on one patient in NHS Grampian who waited 258 weeks for a CT scan.

These people should clean their own house before criticising that of others.

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I lived abroad for a number of years, and my daughter has MS. Her MS was diagnosed by a scan she had when living in England in the early 1990s.

When I came back in 2020, I discovered that she had not had a follow-up scan for 28 (yes – you read correctly) years. So I wrote personal letters directly to the then Scottish Health Secretary and to Nicola Sturgeon. Within days I had a written reply from them (still have it) and shortly after that, my daughter received an NHS letter telling her a scan had been arranged for her.

When the scan was carried out, they found a lesion on her brain – fortunately it was not malignant.

It is time Conservative politicians stopped using the misery of the people to further their selfish political benefit.

Captain Jim Currie
via email