Letters, Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

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Cameron’s plans for the NHS

AFTER David Cameron informed the nation the NHS was safe in his hands, did he then say quietly to himself: “until I sacrifice it on the altar of privatisation”?

If not, he should have. Because previous to his promise Cameron had agreed to proposals on reforms that would reinforce each other to create conditions which would lead to the irreversible marketisation of the health service.

The damage these reforms might do is contained in the risk register compiled by the heads of the five strategic health authorities. Their findings must be unfavourable to Cameron who is withholding publication despite being ordered by the Information Commissioner to make the information public.

North East doctors, however, put their two penn’orth in by saying the reforms will erode the equality of health care provision. They also stated that to give foundation trusts more scope to operate income from private patients was hugely worrying, and poses serious risks. So why, with no mandate from the people, and the medical profession forecasting a disaster, is Cameron spending billions to dismantle the NHS?

Ulterior motives come to mind. Like the Prime Minister’s friends and benefactors in the private sector, who would be shouting “well done, old boy,” for they know the reforms would give them a free hand to extract untold billions from the British taxpayers’ pockets.

Then there’s that ingrained hostility within Tory ideology towards the welfare state, and in particular the health service. The NHS founder probably recognised this threat when he stated: “As long as there’s people left with the faith to fight for it, the NHS will always be there.

W. Quinn, Duke Street, Millfield

MPs’ claims

A CONTRIBUTOR to the Letters Page commented on Dennis Skinner MP reaching the age of 80.

One thing we can say about Dennis Skinner is that as an MP of long standing he has, without compromise, remained loyal to his socialist principles.

No one could ever accuse Dennis of junketing on the rates, as he still describes MPs’ jaunts to foreign parts courtesy of taxpayers. Unlike many MPs who still have their snouts buried deep in the parliamentary expenses trough, he is squeaky clean.

Compare his frugality to that of one Sunderland MP who, along with everything else she expects taxpayers to fund, has the nerve to claim for her bottles of milk and cups of tea.

She must be one of many MPs who believe that a basic salary of £68,000 is for the back pocket.

Ron Metcalfe, Warwick Drive, Sunderland

Give full facts

THE Echo’s Page 1 article “Benefits Slashed” (February 25) ends by asking “What do you think?”

The problem is the article omits key pieces of information (about the family’s remaining income and outgoings) without which readers cannot come to an informed judgement.

As an attempt to ensure everyone is better off working than on benefits the Coalition Government is suggesting a limit of £26,000 (equivalent to an annual salary of £35,000) to benefits payments to any family in any one year.

Interestingly, Labour has suggested the cap vary from region to region and should be only £20,000 in the North East.

You really should give your readers the full facts before asking them to make a judgement.

Coun Peter Wood, Deputy Leader, Conservative Council Group

Struggle for help

MY eldest son and myself have both been diagnosed with bowel cancer. As this may be hereditary, the other siblings are undergoing tests, hopefully to prevent them developing full-blown bowel cancer.

Unfortunately, one of my daughters is estranged from the family. While I do not wish to see her, I feel strongly she should be made aware of the tests available which may prevent her developing this cancer. She can then decide for herself.

I have contacted the Salvation Army. I was rather surprised when they told me I do not fit their criteria.

I wrote to the practice manager at the Old Forge Surgery on January 27, asking her to consult with my GP on this matter. As I write, it is now February 27 and I have not even had an acknowledgement. (Incidentally my estranged daughter was also a patient.).

On February 21 I emailed the Director of Public Health, explaining the situation and including my letter to my GP’s practice. Within 24 hours I received a reply.

She was sympathetic, but, disappointingly went on to say: “I am unable to intervene in this particular issue”.

Coping with cancer and its treatment is traumatic enough, without the medical profession being unco-operative (that’s being diplomatic) – especially as there is a national campaign by the NHS urging people to look for the signs of bowel cancer (full-page article in the Echo on February 27).

I would be grateful if someone out there could suggest other options.

Name and address supplied