Letters, Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

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Councillors ignored real state of NHS

ONCE again Coun Alan Wright dons his Tory blue rinse spectacles (“Government is using funds wisely” – Letters, January 27) and tries, unsuccessfully, to tell a perfect tale of this Tory-led, Lib-Dem supported Government.s funding strategy.

He does, as always, only tell half the story, so may I fill in some of his glaring omissions?

He proudly announces an extra 2,500 doctors, but fails to mention that in December 2011 Department of Health data shows that the number of people having to wait for more than 18 weeks for treatment has been steadily increasing since the Coalition came to power. This has forced the Government to abandon its opposition to NHS waiting time targets, which Health Secretary Andrew Lansley once described as “arbitrary Whitehall targets” and introduce a new rule to halt the growing number of patients not being treated within the promised 18 weeks.

I wonder how many of these 2,500 new doctors are among the four out of five doctors who said, last December, they had seen patient care suffer as a result of health service cuts during 2011. Hospital bed closures, pressure to give patients cheaper, slower-acting drugs, cuts to occupational health support and reductions in community health services are some examples of recent cost-cutting measures that were cited by hospital and family doctors for the decline in standards.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s hospital consultants and specialists committee, noted that the NHS was now “retracting” and doing less for patients, contradicting repeated ministerial pledges that front-line NHS services would escape the Government’s deficit reduction programme and said: “The evidence all around us of cuts that are being made adds up to a picture where the Government has failed to deliver on the promises it made to people on coming into office.”

I suggest Coun Wright removes his spectacles, looks beyond his party’s current crib sheets and sees the bigger picture out here in the real world.

Bob Price, Rydal Mount, Fulwell, Sunderland

Great rail service

CONGRATULATIONS to Grand Central for the Echo headline of January 27 “Happy Customers”. As one of the 95 per cent of satisfied customers, credit must go to the front-line staff who are always polite and friendly and dedicated to making the service a success.

I travel around the country and have used many rail operators, but I can confirm that Grand Central, despite being a small operator, is far and above the best when it comes to friendliness of staff, and for me a great service direct from my home city to the capital.

Grand Central’s pricing is attractive and consistent, especially for the business traveller deciding to travel at short notice, compared to other services operating from the North East. I’ve just compared prices for a journey and saved £180 on an open return travelling from Sunderland rather than Durham or Newcastle.

However, the barrier for business travellers is the ease of station parking, so a suggestion to Sunderland City Council would be to encourage business users by looking at a joined-up approach to parking for the station to allow the North East’s business travellers to take advantage of the country’s friendliest and cost-effective rail service to the capital.

Neil Herron, Director, assist-Mi

Olympics waste

I THOUGHT I had to write in about this Olympic thing. What a waste of tax payers’ money for just somebody running round a track or riding a bike or rowing a boat and the other non-events. Look at the money it is costing – billions for just two weeks.  

The money should have been better spent, some on the NHS, some on housing and all these roads that want repairing – pot holes everywhere you look. This Olympic thing should have been knocked on the head when it was first thought about. They talk that it’s the greatest show on earth – it’s the biggest waste on earth.

France must be pleased they did not get it now and this is not the end. We have all of the security and that will be millions and all the tidying-up after this lot have gone. I think people should know how much this non-event is costing.

Mr G. Young, Gleneagles Road, Grindon,

Sunderland

Money matters

HOW sad that pawnbroking chain the Money Shop will be opening 50 stores in 2012, creating the wrong sort of 330 jobs.

People who have been refused credit by their banks and can’t take out unsecured loans should consider the use of a Credit Union, as in Waterloo Place, which on a merger with South Tyneside has become a Community Bank. Much safer, less oncoming work for the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Bill Craddock, Donvale Road, Washington

Charity’s thanks

I WOULD like to say an enormous thank-you to everyone who has supported Clic Sargent, the cancer charity for children and young people, throughout 2011.

With the help of local families, groups, businesses and schools we have raised more than £67,854 in the North East alone. This is enough to fund a Clic Sargent Nurse for a whole year and pay for community support grants for about 125 families, helping them to meet the cost of any extra support they might need.

This includes the money raised by many local volunteers who took part in our UK-wide Big Bucket Collection in December. In the North East alone, the generosity of the community shone through once again, with more than £3,000 being raised through collections at supermarkets and other local venues. Overall, £105,000 was raised across the UK.

Clic Sargent provides clinical, practical, financial and emotional support for children and young people with cancer, and their families, to help them get the most out of life.

In the next 24 hours, another 10 children and young people will be diagnosed with cancer. At the moment, we can only support two out of three families and that’s why the continued support of people across the North East is so vital.

Jo Warmington, Community fund-raising manager, Clic Sargent

Talented Tim

TIM Rice was born on November 10, 1944, in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and is one of the great songwriters of our time, alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber.

He has written musicals including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Chess, Cricket and the Nutcracker.

A great supporter of Sunderland AFC, he became president of the Lord Taverners’ cricket charity.

He has appeared on television and radio shows such as Countdown, Just a Minute and Trivia Test Match and he was the president of the MCC in 2002.

Tim Rice is a great cricketer, songwriter and a wonderful supporter of Sunderland AFC and the author of British Hit Singles and Albums with Mike Read and Paul Gambaccini.

Keep up the good work, Tim.

Terry Christie, Woodside Terrace, East Herrington, Sunderland

Benefit checks

WELFARE isn’t free, it is paid for by taxation, taxation that, when taking into account income tax national insurance, fuel duties VAT etc, can account for up to 25 per cent of a person’s income.

Surely the Government has a moral duty to check at least once a year to make sure a recipient still needs that help in the form of benefits? So why the complaints? Why the worries?

This is not the recipient’s money, it is all our money that we agree, as a society, is used to help those that need it the most.

When the Welfare State was blueprinted, it had at its heart that those who can work and contribute do so or the system would not work, as the apparent unfairness would undermine the ideal behind it.

So what is wrong asking the question on a regular basis – can you contribute?

Shaun Cudworth

Hitting business

RE. Dave Smith saying it’s a challenge to help bring back jobs back into the city centre and the challenge for the council to help the private sector and bring back more jobs into the city centre.

My granddaughter, after studying for three years at college on a health and beauty course, has just opened her own business in Station Street. She has been lucky enough to have been chosen by the Prince’s Trust, which has been very helpful and supportive

She was having a large heavy cabinet delivered, which only took a few minutes. When the delivery men came out, guess what – a parking ticket for £35, which the driver gave to my granddaughter to pay. There should be a time limit for loading and unloading otherwise we will see more shops closing down. This is no way to encourage people to have a go at starting up on their own.

I wonder what the Prince’s Trust people will think then next they call to check on her progress.

D. J. Wright, Appley Terrace, Roker