Letters, Thursday, October 31, 2013

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North East is used to being deprived

UNFORTUNATELY deprivation is no stranger to the North East, especially since the uncaring Tory-led Government gained power.

 Standards will deteriorate even further, however, if the proposal for a new NHS spending formula gets the go-ahead.

 The current spending agreement includes a deprivation measure, which is taken into account to evaluate the funding for each area. The recommendation is to leave out this measure in the new agreement and place a greater emphasis on age-related allocation. Should this happen, the poorest parts of England will have their funding cut while affluent areas will benefit.

 The result is predictable because life expectancy is higher in wealthier parts of the country.

 In south eastern Hampshire the healthy life expectancy for a woman is 68, therefore NHS funding in that area would increase by £164 per person. By contrast, in Sunderland the healthy life expectancy for a woman is 58. Our NHS funding would reduce by £146 per person.

 Academics from Durham University have stated the new formula could “undermine the principle of equal opportunity of access of equal need”.

 Fine words but will they be enough though to stop this Government taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich?

 Bearing in mind the last three years Mr Cameron has cut primary care funding by £406million. I can understand our doctors’ concern at the thought of another £41million that may be taken out from Wearside health funding.

 Let’s wish our MP Sharon Hodgson the best of luck when she meets the Health Secretary on the subject. She’s probably going to need it.

W Quinn

Nightmare names

AS a true 100 per cent English speaking male, I spent my school years learning how to pronounce names so they ran off the tongue easily, like Smith, Robson, King, Scott, Taylor, Bradbury – simple names that are easily spoken due to simple syllables.

 So, when will it be necessary for us to return to school to learn to pronounce our new “Brit” names. For example, I decided to note some of the name that make up our football teams: Man Utd: De-Gea, Rafael, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Janozaj, oops! Hull City: Rosenior, Faye, Figueroa, Aluko, Elmohamady, Yannick, Sagbo; Sunderland: Celustka, Roberge, Ki, Glaccherini, Altidore, Larsson, Manager Poyet; Newcastle Utd: Krul, Debuchy, Tiote, Coloccini, Sissoko, Gouffran, Remy, Cabaye, Cisse, Gutierrez, Hatem-Ben-Arfa; Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Visar, Luna, El-Ahmadi, Agbonlahor, Alexsander, Tonev, Kozak along with many more. And so on. This is before we get started with the names of terrorists.

 So, who really cares how he we pronounce their names? Honestly I don’t, but in our age of people making racist remarks, a mis-pronunciation of some Brit names could be thought to be racist or sexist or down right rude by the person whose name is used.

 In the army, I had a Maltese pal called Charlie Schrembi. No one ever called him a malteser. We all learned to pronounce his name so as not to offend.

 A corporal Ash was unlucky, in Maltese the way Ash is pronounced is rude. I confirmed this on a visit in December 2012.

 So when will schooling start?

Mr J A Stott,

Blackfell

A stock answer

IN reply to my letter of October 3, R Scott (October 10) writes with what appears to be Labour’s stock answer to any pro-Government letter.

 He writes: “This is the Government of the zero-hour contract” but conveniently forgets that zero-hour contracts have been around since the early 2000 – yes at least 11 years and during a Labour Government.

 What did Labour do to curb these contracts? Nothing.

 He also points out that living standards have fallen. This is bound to happen due to the huge financial crash in 2008. It has taken a huge effort to get the economy moving again – and it is – but it will take time for standards to rise again.

 R Scott goes on to mention the top earners and their “tax cut”. Again, forgetting that under this Government top earners will pay more in the pound every year than they did every year for 13 years under Labour.

 As for the NHS, it was Labour who laid the groundwork that allowed private enterprise involvement. This caused much disquiet in their ranks. Even Cherie Blair was criticised for setting up a company to benefit from Labour’s NHS reforms.

 Does R Scott think the NHS was in good hands during Labour’s time when we had the Mid Staffs NHS Trust scandal?

 Some patients were so badly looked after they drank from dirty flower vases. How disgraceful it is that we now know that at that time under Sunderland Labour Health Minister, the Health Department spent £189,000 on bottled water.

 As for the energy companies, R Scott states “who under this Government will be free to charge whatever prices they see fit and continue to rack up massive profits”.

 Can he tell us what Labour did to curb prices? I’ll tell him – nothing. In fact, prices increased faster under Labour than under this Government.

 The Office for National Statistics figures show that gas increased faster under Labour than under this Government.

 The Office for National Statistics figures show that gas increased 10.3 per cent between 2008 and May 2010, all while Ed Miliband was Energy Secretary. Gas has increased 3.4 per cent since the Coalition came to power. Similarly electricity rose 2.8 per cent under Labour compared with 1.9 per cent since 2010. Check the ONS data if you doubt them.

Terrance Docherty,

Monkwearmouth

Thanks for helping

I WOULD like to say a big, big, thank you to the girls from Jealous Hairdressing Shop and Grangetown Florists for helping my husband, who had a fall on the crossing near the two shops.

 Also not forgetting the two policemen who were nearby at the time. They called at my home and took us both the hospital.

 Thank you PC Boyde 135 and PC Freeman 1324, Gill Bridge.

 But I was disgusted at the cars that stopped for the lights and just sat there watching a lady from the florists help him up. Shame on you all.

 Thanks again to the people who helped.

Two grateful senior citizens,

Tale of two sides

WHAT a contrast was to be found between the two stories featured on Pages six and seven in the Echo the other Saturday.

 One was honouring the Second World War prisoner of war, Alan Pratt, who worked on the death railway in Thailand.

 Then on Page seven we were brought back down to earth with the story of Kayleigh Hall, the self-confessed racist who should have been locked up for admitting to racially aggravated common assault.

 Alan Pratt fought in the war alongside millions of others to eradicate the fascists and to maintain a form of democracy that we now sort of enjoy.

 The irony of the story is this enables the likes of Kayleigh freedom of speech.

 Sadly, she decided freedom of speech wasn’t enough and decided to headbutt the poor chap.

 So much for the gentler sex, eh.

Ged Taylor

Better use for cash

I AGREE with everything R Tomlinson’ said (October 24) about the money spent on Sunderland City Centre’s ‘transformation’ costing £11m.

 It is a complete waste of money. No doubt, it will look fantastic until it becomes vandalised.

 Drive a little further into town and take a look at the buildings crying out for help which need a ‘transformation’.

 Take a look at our beautiful fire station, how long has this stood empty? I remember when the trucks were lined up outside and firefighters were always seen. Even that’s being cut.

 This money could have been put to much better use. How much does a strimmer cost? This would be a great investment and would tidy up all our ancient grave stones, such as Gill Park.

 I could rant forever, but I’m a small fish in a big ocean and it will fall on deaf ears anyway.

Allyson Timm