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Letter: No festive time for us

Sir: At this time of Christmas and the start of a new millennium, spare a thought for nursing staff. We hear of generous supplements being paid in those industries such as catering and child-minding requiring work over the celebratory period. For my colleagues who are working across new year's eve midnight and into the new year morning, a payment of pounds 100 is to be made. Oh, and the staff car parking fees are being waived. That is all, apart from the standard unsocial hours payment of time and two- thirds for a public holiday.

Cheese-paring in the NHS results in under-staffing. At the start of the night shift I have just completed, we had two staff for a shift normally run by five. The problem is common. It is simply not possible to recruit staff at the rates of pay offered by an NHS trust.

On Wednesday night there was a serious air crash at Stansted Airport. What if it had been a passenger aeroplane? What if it had landed not in a field but on Bishop's Stortford? The hospital would have been simply unable to deal with the casualties. There must come a time when there will be a disaster and questions will be asked. Will it be too late?


Quendon, Essex