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Readers’ letters: The unfair expectations of A&E departments, the possible return of dog licences and Just Stop Oil protesters

Ambulances stationed outside the emergency department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Image: Kami Thomson/ DC Thomson
Ambulances stationed outside the emergency department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Image: Kami Thomson/ DC Thomson

Sir, – Once again the dire performance of the majority of Scottish A&E departments are causing the politicians in Holyrood to become apoplectic in their condemnation of the health secretary.

The current targets, I believe, were introduced from 2015 when under the Local Delivery Plan agreement was reached between the Scottish Government and health boards for 95% of patients to wait no longer than four hours from arrival to admission, discharge or transfer for A&E treatment with boards to work towards 98%. All is well and good.

Then as Burns writes “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”. First hammer blow was Brexit when many essential workers returned home to their countries in Europe and those who would have joined the NHS workforce were denied entry to the UK, leading to staff shortages not only in emergency departments but throughout the entire healthcare system, still a persistent and major problem.

That kick in the teeth was but minor to the devastation wreaked by the pandemic when, amid a tsunami of measures to minimise infection, all areas within a hospital had to reorganise, the resulting reduced capacity allied to the never-ending problem of bed-blocking meant patients arriving in emergency and considered requiring admission had nowhere to go. A log-jam of ailing humanity with nothing to release the flow.

Unsurprisingly with this double whammy A&E performance suffered but to my complete bafflement the targets remained gold standard. “All the health secretary’s fault” shout those in opposition, who are well aware if they were dropped in the hot seat there would be little change.

Surely the government must realise events have overtaken their “grand plan” and that targets set will never become close to being met, their only purpose to provide ammunition for opposing guns.

Targets are essential but only if they are realistic, so get on the thinking caps and return to the real world with more modest goals that have a chance of being achieved, boosting the morale of the hard-pressed staff. Like fellow Don fans I would love to return to the magic 1980s with the league flag fluttering over Pittodrie, but realism sets in and a modest third spot becomes a reason to celebrate.

Ivan W. Reid. Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Green energy cure worse than disease

Sir, – A very large spanner in the works is about to hit renewable advocates head-on – the incontrovertible fact is that no transition from fossil fuels to “green” energy sources is under way, nor will it occur, ever.

Why? Because wind and solar installations are entirely parasitic – they cannot be productive without using enormous quantities of fossil fuels.

A major, painstaking study for the Finland Geological Survey (GTK) by Professor Simon Michaux, professor of geometallurgy, found the necessary amounts of certain minerals, their mining and processing, to be impossibly large.

For example, at 2019 production levels it would take 10,000 years to mine the lithium and 29,000 years for the germanium needed for just one generation of technology to replace fossil fuels.

All will require frequent running replacements.

This means that every projection that anyone has made of the ultimate cost of a wind and solar economy is vastly too low. It also means that the cost of pretty much everything else we buy, from cars to mobile phones and anything that requires equipment to produce, will also rise beyond the resources of the average consumer.

In short, a cripplingly expensive, self-inflicted environmental disaster.

It’s time for the gullible to wake up – the cure is a great deal worse than the disease.

George Herraghty. Lhanbryde, Elgin.

Union Street visits proving too costly

Sir, – The continuing eyesore that is Union Street will never attract shoppers unless business rates and car parking charges are greatly reduced – the car is an enemy now.

Other places outwith Aberdeen are much more accessible and car-parking charges are minimal.

I, for one, will not be freezing walking about in this pedestrianised “heaven”.

Bob Mackay. Silverburn Road, Aberdeen.

Radical protesters get benefit from oil

Sir, – Observing the latest radical green protesters Just Stop Oil, a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion, it is striking to note that nearly all of them are comfortably clothed in an assortment of garments, many of which are derived from the very petroleum that they demand should be left in the ground.

Their high-vis vests, puffer jackets and footwear need polyester, nylon and polyurethene.

They may counter that their polyethylene water bottles can be recycled to make clothing but are they aware that one set of cotton denim jeans and a T-shirt that many of them favour are made from cotton which requires 20,000 litres of precious water to produce and yet they persist in calling themselves environmentalists.

Do they ever pause to reflect that the cell phones that they rely on are manufactured from plastic as well as many rare metals, 97% of which come from China? Like all our homes, doubtless theirs will also contain a myriad of petroleum-derived products all of which deliver unprecedented levels of convenience, comfort and recreation.

These misguided people should desist from their disruptive and hypocritical behaviour and recognize that gradually declining oil production over the coming decades will simultaneously accelerate technological advances such as the development of unlimited emission and waste-free power from nuclear fusion and the deployment of the wonder material graphene which is 200 times stronger and six times lighter than steel. The future is much brighter than they imagine.

Neil J Bryce. Gateshaw Cottage, Kelso.

SNP tinkering with never, never land

Sir, – I’ve just been watching the first minister’s press conference.

It is the first time that I have heard her stating that Scottish health (NHS) is Scotland’s responsibility.

But, after admitting that they were responsible she blamed Westminster for not giving them enough cash.

This is from a leader who, to much fanfare, launched the SNP paper on how Scotland will fare as an independent country. Perhaps, just maybe, she will reveal to us all who they will blame and, more importantly, where she will get money from in the SNP never, never land.

Finlay G Mackintosh. Loch View, Forres.

Criticism of latest PM not about envy

Sir, – Despite the protestations from the scribbles of Sunak – defending Tories in your columns, criticism of the latest unelected PM is not at all about envy.

It’s about the system which disenfranchises and alienates those without wealth. It’s about a system which maintains and reinforces the structures of privilege and depends on keeping working-class people poor.

The UK is no meritocracy and never has been.

Ivan Reid in his letter (November 9) asks us to judge Sunak on his future actions, forgetting that this loaded and entitled ex-hedge fund manager is complicit and guilty of the sins of the abhorrent Johnson administration of only a couple of months ago.

His part as chancellor qualifies him as being a legitimate target of the most direct and strong criticism from anyone who recognises the nasty and vindictive demonisation of the poor in our society.

A measure of how civilised and progressive a society is can be seen in how equally wealth is distributed.

The UK’s food banks and billionaires are shameful but what is worse is that UK policies are exacerbating this polarisation.

Separately, Sunak’s race is entirely irrelevant and should not be held up as evidence that racism is not a problem issue as suggested by Mr Kay in the same letters page. Remember the actions of Braverman and Patel in this context.

I would go further and suggest that Brexit, racism and Tories are so interlinked as to be impossible to unfankle the bonds.

The Scottish people can’t fix the UK’s problems so let’s forge our own path.

Greed and growth do not have to be the only mantras. Indeed, a well-resourced, independent country can strike out to eliminate the twin scourges of poverty and privilege which are holding us back as Scots.

Peter E. Smith. Aigas, Beauly.

Discarded dog poo bags raise a stink

Sir, – In recent weeks, I have just avoided stepping in dog faeces on city pavements left by owners. I do not imagine that the detritus was caused by sled-pulling husky teams in training.

I have experienced dog poo bags deposited in overhead branches. Highland games hammer throwers at it again? I think not. I even came across a poo bag in my residential waste-collection dustbin.

I dare say if the person who did this had the energy to lift the lid then he or she had the energy to take it home.

I have witnessed dogs on long-extending leashes being far from sight from their owners and carrying out their natural urges while the person on the other end of the lead is engrossed in their mobile phone.

I even passed two walkers who had obviously failed to bother with their poo bag, stating that they couldn’t see where their dog had left her deposit.

The dog was on a lead and the odour was entirely distinguishable from the clean countryside air.

There are, by various estimates, more than 10 million dogs in the UK at present, which represents a considerable amount of excrement to be disposed of.

There are dog poo bins scattered around the city. One notably at the Bay of Nigg at the weekend was overflowing and also stuffed full of takeaway coffee cups and the like. Dog poo bags littered the surrounding area.

As the average cost of feeding and general wellbeing of a dog of average size is in the thousands annually, surely it is not outside of the government, either UK or Scottish, to re-introduce an annual licence fee allied to mandatory chipping.

Vets could certify chipped dogs and licences.

At the time of the demise of the Dog Licence in the late 1980s, the cost was 37.5p, a whopping £1.20 in today’s terms – the cost of a tin of dog food.

I do wonder if the chancellor will be thinking of bringing back the licensing in the budget. After all, at £100 annually, the resulting income of £1 billion would assist the coffers and maybe put some dog patrols with bite on to our shabby streets.

Robert Chisholm. Gordon Road, Aberdeen.

Gross overspend not just about the ferries

Sir, – I feel I have to reply to your prolific letter writer Dennis F Grattan. He writes in a childlike rant regarding the Scottish ferries at Ferguson Shipyard.

It’s common knowledge that there have been problems in the building of these craft and I’m sure even the most avid Scottish Government voter is highly disappointed in these desperate circumstances. I’m sure your readers will also applaud the said letter writer for his concern for taxpayers’ money being spent on these ships.

But I’m surprised that he has overlooked or at least not reported to the EE the cost and overtime of the UK aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales 2011-2017.

The cost at the start of the contract was £3.9 billion, and at the end was £7.6 billion.

And of course, as we know now, more work is ongoing on this ship after it broke down.

There’s also the Crossrail fiasco –perhaps this has escaped his notice? Three-and-a-half years late, and at an overspend of £4 billion which is also taxpayers’ money.

Scotland’s taxes are used in projects south of the border too, although some media outlets are rather reticent in reporting these. If awards are being handed out for gross overspends, our ferries won’t even be in the running.

Brian Patterson, Cove.