Letters, Thursday, July 4, 2013

Have your say

Political onslaught unfair on doctors

THE public cannot have failed to notice that over the last few months there has been a constant stream of criticism directed at GPs and general practice.

 Much of this has been based on misleading and, regrettably, false statements by the Secretary of State for Health and other Government spokespersons.

 These have centred on the alleged negative effects of a new contract for general practice introduced in 2004, which is being blamed for the current very real difficulties experienced in A&E Departments across the country.

 GPs have been characterised as lazy, overpaid and scheming in the way they “duped” the Government into losing their responsibility for out-of-hours care of their patients. None of this is true.

 The reality was that in 2004 general practice had become increasingly unattractive to newly-qualified doctors because of the long hours and ever-increasing workload. Perversely, the Government at that time actually wanted to increase the amount of work done in general practice – mainly around long term health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. It recognised that fundamental changes to the contract had to be made coupled with proper investment to improve staffing levels etc.

 That new contract has been implemented remarkably successfully by GPs, with both a transfer of care out of the hospital sector and a huge improvement in long term disease management.

 General Practice in the UK is universally acclaimed as the best primary health care system in the world – even by the United States.

 Fifteen years ago, Sunderland was recognised as the area with the least doctors in England.

 That changed in the intervening years and until recently the number of GPs in our city has been adequate.

 It is with regret that I must now inform the patients of Sunderland that I am yet again receiving reports from practices that they are experiencing difficulties in recruiting young GPs, and although this may be the beginning of a national problem I fear that Sunderland will once again suffer disproportionally.

 We can only speculate why the Government is conducting this political onslaught.

 Meanwhile, Sunderland Local Medical Committee (LMC) has arranged for our practices to provide leaflets to patients outlining the true position and achievements of general practice.

Dr R N Ford

LMC Secretary

Help us celebrate

DIAMOND Hall Infant School and Nursery Unit is looking to celebrate a new stage of its existence.

 It is converting to academy status and is holding a celebration day on Thursday, July 11. The school, based in the Millfield area of Sunderland, first opened its doors in 1878 and has seen many changes, including a new purpose-built building which staff and children moved into in 1994.

 It is believed to be the second oldest school in Sunderland, and the only one still operating as a school.

 We are hoping for help from the people of Sunderland. Did you, your parents or grandparents attend Diamond Hall Infants?

 We have some log books and registers and a few photos from the very early days but would like to see more. Do you have any photos, especially of the old school that we might be able to show in our celebration day? We are hoping to show different eras of time throughout the school and any help from the public would be greatly appreciated.

 You can ring the school office on 0191 553 7620, or alternatively email any pictures or anything else that may be of interest to diamond.hall.infant@schools.sunderland.gov .

Staff at Diamond Hall Infant School and Nursery Unit

Welcome backing

I AM writing to thank Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson for showing her support for children with Type 1 diabetes by backing our call for children with the condition to be better supported in schools.

 At the moment many children with health conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, migraines and asthma are not getting the care or support they need to manage their condition in school.

 These children can face discrimination and are excluded from school trips and extra-curricular activities, which means they are not able to participate in normal school life and reach their full academic potential. This is why we are delighted that Mrs Hodgson has backed an amendment to the Children’s and Families Bill, which calls for a statutory duty to be placed on schools to support children with health needs.

 I look forward to working closely with her to ensure children with diabetes in Sunderland get the care and support they need.

Robin Hewings,

Head of Policy,

Diabetes UK

Playing on our fears

I FEEL I must reply to Richard Elvins letter on June 17.

 I have no doubt that your meetings are full of disillusioned ex-Labour and Lib-Dem supporters.

 I did not say UKIP is full of old Conservatives.

 What I did say was UKIP is organised and overseen by ex-Conservatives who left the party because of their disillusionment at the party’s left wing sympathies.

 UKIP’s hierarchy play on the fears of ordinary voters making it all about immigration and Europe and ignoring the other more insidious aspects of its policies, which are totally against the working man.

 Immigration and Europe are serious issues that need to be addressed, but have a look beneath the surface of this party – it ain’t what it says on the tin.

Ged Taylor,


Enforce the policy

ON June 25, my wife and I, with our dog, were walking through Sunderland Royal Hospital and decided to buy a can of cola from the hospital shop and sit outside the main entrance in the sun and enjoy our drink.

 But within minutes of sitting down – on the seats with No Smoking signs – two girls, one in a nightdress and flip flops, sat down and started to smoke.

 So my wife and I moved seats, also with No Smoking signs.

 Once again four women, one pushing a hospital patient in a wheelchair sat down and started to smoke, so my wife and I called time and headed home.

 If the hospital policy is no smoking in these seats, then hospital management should inform hospital security staff, who patrol these seating areas, and politely inform any smoker sitting there that a smoking shelter is provided for them.

 If the security staff are afraid to tackle these people then give them the sack and advertise the positions, asking for ex-army staff who I am sure would be up to the job, and be only too willing to ask these people to smoke in the shelter provided.

Robert Mackinnon,


Bedroom tax unfair

THIS bedroom tax is very wrong. One of my neighbours moved to this estate with his parents, brother and sister when the estate was built in the 1950s.

 When his parents, sister and brother died many years later, he stayed in the house with his own family, putting his daughter’s name on the rent book so she would always have a home.

 When she was an adult her boyfriend moved in and they had a baby, now almost two years old, and were quite happy.

 Two weeks ago our neighbour was found dead in bed by his son, as his daughter and family were away. Within days she was informed by the council that she had two weeks to clear the house unless she paid the extra bedroom tax, which of course she couldn’t afford.

 So while still grieving for her dad with the help of family she managed to clear everything out and move to another part of town into a smaller place.

 There is also another man on the estate who moved out of his house when his mother died as he couldn’t afford the bedroom tax. He was moved to a tiny cottage on the other side of the estate.

 It is all wrong in my opinion and very unfair to lots of people.

Disgruntled tenant of 45 years

I am not Peter Wood

PETER Thornton, from Ayton, (Echo, June 4) asks if I’m the Peter Wood who stood as a Conservative in the 1959 mock election at Bede School.

 The answer is no. The mock election I took part in that year, not as a candidate, was at Monkwearmouth Grammar School.

 His Peter Wood was clearly a contemporary though I am not aware we ever met and has, I believe, a different middle name.

Peter Wood (Coun),

St Michael’s ward