Letters, Saturday, September 7, 2013

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Have your say

Surgery charges not the answer

THE BMA responded last week to the Government’s consultation on charging migrants for accessing the NHS service – proposals that we believe will inconvenience patients across your local area and put a further burden on over-stretched GP services (September 2).

 Extending charging for migrants and short-term visitors in the way ministers are currently proposing could only be implemented if every patient in your area went through a complicated vetting system every time they registered with a new GP practice. The NHS also does not have the infrastructure or resources to oversee a complicated administration system that will cost taxpayers money to introduce.

 For patients, these proposals could see long waits when they register with their GP and their local surgery will be faced with yet more pressure on their time and resources.

 Anyone accessing NHS services should, of course, be eligible to do so, but the Government’s proposals are impractical, uneconomic and inefficient.

 Rather than rush through an ill-thought-out system, as they did with NHS 111, ministers should be looking to work with healthcare professionals to find solutions to the issue.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul

British Medical Association

Chair of the GP committee

Another expense

I WOULD like to congratulate Sunderland City Council.

 Not only have they thrown away £20m-plus on a bridge not to be built, spent in excess of £20k per year on bottled water, it has now agreed to increase our council spending by introducing a new tier of taxpayer-funded benefits for retired councillors.

 They are to be called ‘Aldermen’ and will have free of charge, thanks to the Sunderland taxpayer, access to members’ car parks, lockers, rooms and dining rooms, invitations to major civic ceremonies and to ‘stand in’ for the Mayor at other events – no doubt claiming associated expenses such as travelling costs.

 Welcome to the extended gravy train – what was that Sunderland City Council said about having no money to keep all libraries open?

Kay Rowham

Easington Lane

Honorary Mackem

WITH great delight I switched on my television on August 24 and watched the live broadcast of Southampton vs Sunderland.

 My affinity for ‘the lads’ dates back to when I taught in Sunderland schools from 1977 to 1986. My children attended St Anthony’s and St Aidan’s.

 I had many happy years in the city, leaving in 1988 to take a post at Leeds College of Music and then the Sultanate of Oman.

 Watching the match brought back memories of my former colleagues, David and Jim Walton, Mary Hale, Dave Dittman and countless children (now adults) at Red House School, Oxlose, Thorney Close, Havelock Junior, Barnes Junior, St Aidan’s and St Anthony’s.

 My Sunderland years were special and one day I hope to return.

 I’ve lived in the US since 2000 but consider myself an honorary ‘Mackem’.

 Your city and its people hold a special place in my affections.

Mike Carton,

Pennsylvania

Very proud of event

THANK you to the organisers of Sunderland Pride 2013, which took place in the city centre on Sunday, September 1.

 I know how hard the organisers work throughout the year to make the event a success.

 It was a great pleasure for me to meet Peter Tatchell, who is one of the patrons of Sunderland Pride. I took along my copy of the Good News Bible, which Peter kindly signed. So now my bible contains the signatures of two remarkable people: Peter Tatchell and Dr David Jenkins, the former Bishop of Durham.

 Thanks to Kieran Brady, former SAFC player turned equality expert, who is also a patron of Sunderland Pride and who attended the event.

 Thanks to the deputy major, Councillor Stuart Porthouse and deputy mayoress, Mrs Marie Porthouse, who each gave a beautiful speech in Park Lane, and thank you to all those councillors who showed their interest and support by their presence.

John Watson