Letters, Saturday, February 12th, 2011

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Important thing is to improve health care

THE Echo (February 3) reported that Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, is to write to Karen Straughain, chief executive, NHS South of Tyne and Wear, to ask whether rising inflation will impact on the budget to deliver Primary Health Services over the coming year.

The answer is a no brainer. Of course there will be an impact, but the impact will be far less than if Labour had been elected last June as they had made it clear that they would not be increasing investment in the NHS whereas the Coalition is providing an extra £10.6billion of NHS funding over the next five years.

Ms Phillipson would be doing her constituents a greater service to ask Ms Straughain why, after nine years of unprecedented investment by the taxpayer, together with a long-term and stable leadership team and senior management system, Sunderland PCT still cannot reach the two-week cancer waiting time. Cancer waiting times have been a significant failure of the PCT over this period.

In the last quarter they have failed on every indices in terms of GP access, continue to fail on improving health inequalities, particularly with regard to reducing mortality in cancer and cardio-vascular issues. Cervical screening, obesity and treating STD also fall below national targets.

I’m sure that Ms Straughain would not want to be embroiled in petty political point-scoring but concentrate with her team on improving Primary Health Care in South Tyne and Wear where much still needs to be done, so that the present legacy is improved when they hand over to GP consortia in 2013.

As for Bridget Phillipson, if she wants to be a serious politician, she needs to divest herself of childish rhetoric and ingest herself about the facts of health performance in this city.

D. McDonald, Winifred Street, Fulwell, Sunderland

Is this man real?

A FEW days ago I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery waiting room and two ladies were discussing how much they enjoyed the Echo Letters Page, especially the rantings of one Mick “The Pen” Brown.

“Of course he doesn’t really exist,” one of the ladies said. “He is made up by the Echo to create controversy and get a response, this fills the page up”. She went on to add that it is really the Editor or Linda Colling in drag or some other columnist.

This got me thinking: if Mick The Pen does exist he should really be writing the script for a TV drama. He is a breath of fresh air on the page, although I would distance myself from many of his views and I don’t supposed he would win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Can the Echo clarify that Mick The Pen is a real person or will he continue to be a mystery?

If there is such a person it begs the question what is going on at the Echo. They must get hundreds of letters every week, yet the ones by Mick The Pen are always printed.

This is a good thing and shows balance of views on the page but will my question be answered?

John Walsh, Fulwell Road, Sunderland

l Mick “The Pen” Brown is indeed a real person. He is also a prolific correspondent, so much so that, despite what Mr Walsh may think, not all of his letters are printed. – Letters Editor

Board closure

I WAS amazed to read in the Echo that the diving board in the Aquatic Centre has been closed for three months.

My amazement quickly turned to anger on discovering that the head of Community Services, Julie Grey, is planning to waste thousands of pounds on external expert advice in solving this apparently minor problem.

If Julie had contacted the local GMB union they could have supplied three or four ex-shipyard tradesmen at a reasonable cost who would have solved the problem within days.

The Aquatic Centre is only three years old so surely the original contractors should be responsible for any structural malfunction. Why weren’t they contacted?

K. Downes, Fulwell, Sunderland

Upset by remarks

I HAVE a disabled son aged seven who attends a mainstream school.

Because of his needs he was awarded a free disabled bus pass, with the pink registration card a disabled child gets from the Durham County Council.

I was sickened by the comments of a bus passenger (adult, not a child) about my son using a baby buggy.

Yes, my son has a major buggy, but as I am disabled myself it’s a bit awkward for me to handle.

I was wondering if any parent has had to put up with this kind of thing.

I explained to this individual that my child was disabled, then I turned away and choked back the tears till I got off the bus.

Angry mum

Human rights?

I COULD not believe it when I read the story of a refugee and an illegal immigrant to boot who carried out a sickening assault on a tot (Echo, Wednesday, February 2).

His prison terms include affray and assaulting a police officer, but he won’t be deported as his life could be in danger.

What about our lives being in danger with this man on our streets?

I could imagine he could be in danger in his own country if he’s been up to what he’s done here.

And I note his address was not given, but I bet if it had been one of our own homegrown scum his or her name and address would have been right up there.

Not the judge to blame, but the Human Rights laws. Humbug! What of our human rights?

God Help Us, The Limes, Ashbrooke, Sunderland