Letters: Diabetes and the NHS

Patient charged for trying to delay onset of diabetes

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I am 54 and in the early stages of diabetes, so early, in fact, that I can control my condition without medication, using diet and exercise, a state of affairs I and my doctors hope will long continue.

To monitor my condition, I self-test my blood sugar once a week. Now, at my quarterly checkup, the practice nurse at my local surgery told me the testing strips needed will no longer be available on prescription. Instead, if I wish to continue to monitor the progress of the disease I must purchase the strips, at approximately double the cost, from the manufacturer.

She heartily agreed with me as I furiously pointed out the foolishness of cutting back on preventative measures that may delay the onset of the full condition, a condition that presages complications that are not only life-threatening but numerous and expensive to treat.

She nodded sadly when I roared with outrage at being told that I would otherwise have to make an appointment at the surgery to get my blood drawn and tested, a waste of valuable time that could be better used. But her protests have been ignored as, probably, will mine.

I do not wish to add to the government's troubles, not with the Tories waiting in the wings, exuding opportunistic sympathy, implying that they could handle everything so much better, without giving any embarrassing details of how they would do it.

But nor do I look forward to the inevitable letter from some junior minister who will assure us that this is a perfectly sensible measure, approved by the wisest of men and that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds, selling a little more of their own and their party's soul as they do so.

Michael Cule

High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Authors should pay for abuse register

What is it with these highly successful childrens' authors (letters, 20 July) ? Why do they think they are above us mere mortals who go into schools and other places to help with our children and other vulnerable groups on a voluntary basis? I, for one, won't be "deeply offended" by being asked to have a VSB check.

At present, we have to be scrutinised by the CRB but we don't pay for it. Not sure what will happen if volunteers have to pay £64 for VSB checks but I certainly don't object to either the principle or the process.

On the point about "governmental idiocy which will drive a wedge between children and adults"; where have they been? The gulf between the generations became a chasm years ago.

Having previously lived by the sea and being a regular visitor to the beach at the height of the season, you could encounter children temporarily separated from their family, but would you dare approach to offer a comforting hand or word? No, you had to look on and hope the parent would find them before a person with an ulterior motive moved in.

Twelve years ago, I had to stop my elderly father from harmlessly touching the hand or foot of babies or toddlers in supermarket trolleys as he passed in his wheelchair, a gesture considered once as normal interaction between generations. I cannot see what these authors will achieve by boycotting schools, apart from further disenfranchising our youngsters. I am sure they can afford the fee so what's the problem?

Gabrielle Cash

Swindon

The extent of the idiocy of the legislation regarding the registering of people working with children and of those who give up their leisure time to help and guide youngsters was brought home to me recently.

I was, before my retirement, a head and deputy head in a secondary school and had seen the chaos this legislation had caused when applied to everyone in a school. But I realised that such people were working with a potentially vulnerable section of society.

Now, the sheer stupidity of the present position was demonstrated when two of the ladies, in my bowls club, who are accredited coaches and, as bowlers almost all are, of advanced years, wanted to cover the possibility of a young person joining our club and requiring coaching, found that they too had to submit themselves to this data checking, and that the cost had to be borne by the club or the ladies themselves.

Think of the cost of this nationally for every sports or recreational club that offers facilities for young people. Bowls is possibly the sport that least appeals to youngsters, so our position is the tip of an iceberg.

I just hope that all this checking is so successful that no child is ever again harmed or molested by an adult. Somehow, I have my doubts.

Richard Tarleton

Oakham, Rutland

"We know that teachers, school caretakers, singers, actors and priests can be paedophiles," states Richard Ayres (letters, 18 July). We also know that teachers, school caretakers, singers, actors and priests can be, and are much more likely to be, loving, concerned and kind. The same applies to children's authors and anyone else who comes into contact with children. The views expressed in this letter provide ample evidence of the extent to which this government has succeeded in undermining trust between individuals in this country.

Countries where it is an unwritten law that children are treated with genuine affection, kindness and respect do not need Big Brother tactics to enforce good behaviour, and neither should we. Or do the British really dislike children so much?

Nick Chadwick

Oxford

All through my daughter's school life, she regularly had friends round for sleepovers. Not once was I, her father, asked by any of the parents involved to register with the Vetting and Barring Scheme, although each of those girls was technically at risk.

The VBS is yet another good idea taken to extreme lengths by over-zealous and paranoid bureaucrats who don't seem to know when to stop meddling, like the ID card scheme and Health and Safety Executive.

T Honeybone

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Congratulations to this government. Now you've vetted all the teachers, classroom assistants, dinner ladies, lollipop people, caretakers, parent-helpers, coaches, choirmasters, visiting dignitaries and speakers and, for all I know, the little old lady sitting at the bus-stop. Just one question: when are you going to vet Mummy and Daddy ?

Tim Hinchliffe,

Beckenham, Kent

Children could help with care home cost

One of the biggest problems with the present care-funding system is that it is largely unintelligible. It is also unfair. Anything that can be done to address these two issues has to be welcome.

But I am disappointed that the eagerly awaited Green Paper ("Tax to end 'cruel lottery' of elderly care", 15 July) does not appear to attempt to challenge a significant flaw in the system, regarding the means of the children. Instead, some children who may be in a position to help will be able to continue to wash their hands of any financial responsibility for their parents, who are then funded by the state.

The system is open to abuse, so it is critical that any new method the government decides to implement is protected from people creatively divesting themselves of their assets to ensure their eligibility for local authority support.

Those who have prudently saved all their lives are penalised by our present system. Naturally, a favoured option seems to be that people may not have to sell their houses.

Can we assume, therefore that central, or more likely local, government would be responsible for administering the universal deferred payment mechanism? In practice, will this mean that local authorities will fund a resident at their own rate, or pay the actual charge of the care home? If it's the former, who will make up the deficit? It is the care homes and care providers who will lose out.

Local authorities cannot expect charities to simply absorb more and more of the financial burden, and children must react to their parents' care needs appropriately and proportionately to their overall financial situation.

Leon Smith

Chief Executive, Nightingale, London SW1

Elections in Iran were not rigged

As a regular visitor to Iran, and having recently returned from there, it is my duty to ensure, in whatever small way I can, that the British public is not misled by misrepresentations by the Western media.

The suggestion that the elections were rigged is farcical. Some 40 million people, or 85 per cent of the electorate, voted, an endorsement of the system and one that contrasts markedly with the justified apathy and disgust of voters in the West. It is inconceivable that an election of such magnitude could be fraudulent without smoking guns, someone, somewhere, blowing the whistle.

The Iranians, including the authorities, are highly intelligent, much more so than their British or American counterparts, as their masterful handling of the nuclear issue, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon have demonstrated. If they were going to rig an election, they would rig it 49 per cent to 51 per cent, say, and not by a landslide of two-thirds to one-third.

The history of Iran for the past few centuries is one of outside powers meddling in her affairs and stealing her resources, the principal culprits being Britain, America and Russia. And, in recent times, the first two have sought to bring down the Revolution, arming and funding Saddam Hussein in a war that cost a million lives.

The truth is that nothing would please the West more than for the Revolution to fail and for the great Iranian people to become like their own citizens, far from emancipated, the mindless, McDonald's-munching slaves of Mammon.

Darius Guppy

Cape Town, South Africa

Well done to Lord Waddington ("We must cut our ties with Iran until the suppression is halted", Opinion, 14 July) for making a logical argument about what should be done in response to Iran's unlawful actions against its own citizens.

As he says, the solution is to back the Iranian people morally for them to bring about democratic change on their own. The key is for the West to stop paying the mullahs billions for its oil, since the money pays its Revolutionary Guards to suppress the people.

Hamid Irani

London NW4

The war in Afghanistan encourages a mawkish sentimentality about British soldiers. We need to learn from history that sending troops to impose Britain's will reap a bitter harvest.

The hatred of Britain felt in Iran was was sown a century ago. Imperial militarism does not make Britain a safer place, but much more dangerous one, and for much longer.

Revd Stephen Griffith MBE

London SW14

Saudi non-rights

It comes as no surprise that refugees from the hardline Saudi government's punishments should seek asylum in Britain (front page, 20 July). Capital punishment for adultery is the logical conclusion in a kingdom where individual rights are anathema. Women have had their status reduced to possessions. The British government's politically expedient silence is an embarrassing hypocrisy in such cases.

Shireen Durrani

Paris

Paying the game

Matthew Norman (Comment, 18 July) is wrong to suggest that the pay of the BBC chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, rose by 30 per cent last year. It rose by 2 per cent. This is less than the figure offered by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. There was an increase in the taxable expenses for Sir Michael (for such things as travel and hotels) but this reflects his significantly increased BBC workload. He gets no personal financial gain from these expenses.

Nicholas Kroll

Director, BBC Trust, London W1

Hunting for votes

The real impact of voting Green in Norwich North will be to assist a pro-hunting Tory (letters, 16 July). The Tory candidate, Chloe Smith, has stated that, if elected, she would, in the event of a Tory general election victory, vote to relegalise fox-hunting, hare-coursing and stag-hunting. Voting for fringe parties will please the Tories and their hunting allies.

Chris Gale

CHIPPENHAM, WILTSHIRE

Paul's fear detected

Rosemary Smith (letters, 17 July) sees the paucity of New Testament references to homosexuality as evidence of a relaxed liberalism; really, they show deep uneasiness and fear. Paul slips from his usual dignified style when he calls gay men "softies" and "mansleepers". The early defenders of the faith knew they couldn't afford to be on the wrong side of popular prejudice, since nothing is more lethal to new religious movements than sexual scandals.

Martin Hughes

Wokingham, Berkshire

Exactly. Or not

Guy Keleny (Errors & Omissions) is always my first port of call on a Saturday, but I was distressed to find him saying, "You can't help but wonder how much the reporter really knows ...". He could have said, "You can't help wondering ...", or (better), "You cannot but wonder ...", both alternatives providing the required double negative. What he has written would seem to yield a treble negative.

John Hart

Malvern, Worcestershire

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