Letter: Cure for the NHS

Sir: You point out (leading article, 6 January) that if we want an adequately funded health service we have to pay for it. There is no simpler or fairer way than through direct taxation, whatever the political objections.

Replacement of old buildings is important but must take second place to the recruitment and retention of staff. The shortage of nurses is the cause of most of the current troubles. A significant pay rise for them should be a first charge on the extra money announced for next financial year. The other causes of low morale, like the years of denigration of public service and the disastrous attempt to turn the NHS into a business, will take longer to reverse.

Finally, do not be lured into advocating private/public partnerships on the Private Finance Initiative model. These schemes for hospital building have been shown to be very expensive and to involve major bed reductions. It should now be clear that bed numbers have already been cut beyond what is acceptable.



National Health Service Consultants' Association

Great Bourton, Oxfordshire