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Readers’ letters: Northfield Academy, NSPCC donations and how to save the NHS

In today's letters, our readers discuss Northfield Academy staff, NSPCC donations and how to save the NHS.

Northfield Academy. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson
Northfield Academy. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Sir, – I lived in Northfield for more than 30 years and Northfield School in the last decade has been trodden on, even by its own staff, etc.

A recent report has stated that staff need to work harder, although the school could do with more support from the education authorities who are mostly to blame.

I’m very glad this has come out publicly because kids who are supposedly educated at Northfield School have been the scapegoats long enough.

It affected them as much as it did the staff.

A lot of work needs done by staff, etc. They are the grown ups.

Joseph Durno, Cummings Park Circle, Aberdeen.

Yousaf must act like the first minister as well as the SNP leader

Sir, – The Supreme Court could not have been clearer that constitutional matters are reserved for the UK Government yet not only has the new first minister of Scotland kept the cabinet post of constitutional secretary, but he has also added a new post of independence minister.

At a time when all focus should be on those matters within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, we have yet another first minister whose number one priority is independence, matching up to his predecessor where independence came first, last and always.

Given the mountain of transport issues in the first minister’s in-tray, surely it would have been better to appoint a cabinet minister for transport, someone whose main priority is to get ferries sailing to the island communities as well as seeing what can be done to speed up the dualling of the A9 and focusing on improving the state of Scotland roads?

Humza Yousaf speaking at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, after it was announced that he is the new Scottish National Party leader. Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Instead of appointing an independence minister why not continue having the post of tourism minister? Scotland relies heavily on tourism – it provides a much-needed boost to our economy, and we want to encourage individuals to make Scotland their holiday destination of choice.

The tourism minister could have also worked hand in hand with the transport minister to get the ferry fleet up to full capacity which will increase tourism in our island communities.

The post would also have supported this sector as it still recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

Perhaps now is the time for the UK Government to step in and remind Humza Yousaf that he has been appointed first minister of Scotland, not just leader of the SNP?

The post is to serve all of Scotland within the remit of the Scottish Parliament and not to waste taxpayers’ money on his and his party’s number one priority.

Mhairi E Rennie, Finlayson Street, Fraserburgh.

Your legacy can be a safe start to life

Sir, – The NSPCC supports thousands of children in Scotland and the rest of the UK every week.

Our practitioners help children and families through difficult times, our Childline counsellors help young people when they feel they have nowhere else to turn, while our Helpline staff offer support and advice to parents, carers and adults who are concerned about the safety of children.

Locally, our campaigns teams and Schools Service staff and volunteers are working in communities to deliver workshops such as Speak Out Stay Safe, which shares vital messaging for adults and children to help prevent child neglect and abuse.

Many people are surprised that the NSPCC relies on public donations for around 90% of its funding, which makes our fundraising staff and volunteers essential to be able to continue our vital work.

Image: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

We understand that the cost-of-living crisis is making life financially difficult for many across the country and people may feel unable to support the NSPCC through a regular charitable donation. However, there is an alternative.

By leaving a gift in your will to the NSPCC, you can help to share the most powerful legacy with future generations – the gift of a safe and happy childhood. You can help to make sure that more children are safe and supported. Your donation will help us stop abuse, neglect and exploitation. It will fund Childline and Helpline, education programmes in schools here in Scotland, and help us invest in community projects that support families facing tough times, equipping them with the skills to nurture happier childhoods.

Details on how to leave a gift in your will to the NSPCC Scotland and ensure that we continue to be there for children for years to come are available here.

Paul Cockram, Head of Fundraising, NSPCC Scotland.

SNP voters must rise to challenge

Sir, – In tackling the cost-of-living crisis, child and fuel poverty along with racial and religious bigotry, trans rights to abortion access, equal marriage to conversion therapy, all is now assured by the new SNP leadership. And with a fresh young Holyrood cabinet, the campaign to create a socially-democratic independent Scotland should now progress. I and many others joined the SNP for that express reason.

However, it remains a sadness that only 70% of SNP members actually voted in the recent leadership contest, where three contrasting choices were presented.

In truth our new First Minister, Humza Yousaf, while conducting the good governance of Scotland, cannot protect the status quo which has failed to advance the case for independence, despite the disaster of Brexit and dysfunctional and corrupt UK Tory administrations.

In realising what has been achieved with the limited powers of devolution, imagine what a richly-endowed Scotland could achieve with the full powers of independence. People of Scotland, unite and rise to the challenge of Westminster’s wholly undemocratic stance and regain your sovereign national right.

Grant Frazer, Cruachan, Newtonmore.

We need solutions to cure NHS issues

Sir, – Few would fail to have sympathy for Tory MSP Douglas Lumsden who shared the agony of many families in similar situations, when a much-loved family member was stuck for an unacceptable time in an ambulance waiting for admission to an A&E department. He angrily urges our new first minister “to get back out to hospitals and do something about it”, but what is that elusive “something”? Let us for a moment delve into fantasy and imagine a Tory administration in charge at Holyrood with Mr Lumsden given the role of health minister. What are his solutions?

Is more money his answer? This is advocated by all of primary school age and those with political thinking of that age group.

“Love changes everything,” sings Michael Ball. If only money could do the same for our struggling healthcare system we should rejoice in song.

Additional funding, while welcome – a few extra staff employed and beds made available – will quickly be enveloped by increased demand.

Empty modern hospital bed in a sunny room with a clean blue floor
Image: Shutterstock

The amount of extra finance available is akin to tackling a moorland blaze with a watering can. A few fires around the edge extinguished, the central inferno untouched.

More doctors and nurses is another popular solution – not so simple in the short term – training increased numbers takes time and is always bedevilled by retirement and relocation of those in post.

The only long-term solution will bring pain, the pain of having to pay realistic amounts to fund a modern health and social care system.

The folly of expecting a model introduced now two generations ago, to operate under the parameters laid down at its launch, is brought before our eyes by the chaotic scenes outside our hospitals, now an everyday occurrence.

Over to you Mr Lumsden, and good luck.

Ivan W Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Irate Tory should look close to home

Sir, – I was disappointed to see Douglas Lumsden seeking to make political capital out of the illness of his father on your Saturday front page. He must be well aware the issues in A&E are caused by bed blocking further down the line in the hospital. The bed blocking is caused by the lack of availability of social care places in the community. And who promised he would sort out the problems in social care in the country? That’s right, Mr Lumsden’s former boss, Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson. Image: Matt Dunham/AP/Shutterstock

On the steps of Downing Street, no less, on December 13 2019 the ex-PM, with his 80-seat majority, promised he had a plan to address all the issues of social care.

More than three years later we still have the same issues. Beds are being blocked and people are still having to sell their houses to fund care in old age.

So, Mr Lumsden, perhaps look closer to your own party’s failures rather than criticise the Scottish Government for lack of action in Westminster.

Mark Cullen, University Road, Aberdeen.

One bus is not ‘fare’

Sir, – I read in the EE that parents in Hazlehead and Mannofield are very upset that the bus taking their children to Hazlehead Academy is being withdrawn and they will be expected to walk to school as we all did in years gone by.

This appears similar to what happened to the children from Torry when the academy – which was at the heart of the community – was demolished and they had to walk more than two miles, all uphill, to the new Lochside Academy along one of the busiest dual carriageways.

They would be soaked getting to school a ~ lot of the time in our weather.

Should the Hazlehead parents be successful in getting their bus retained then the Torry children ought to get a bus too.

Muriel Jaffrey, Scotstown Gardens, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.