Letters: NHS appointments

NHS needs to sort out muddle over appointments

Share
Related Topics

My sympathy to Christina Patterson in her struggle to deal with the muddled appointment for her cancer diagnosis ("Is that what they mean by care in the NHS?", 5 December). Confusion about appointments is a major concern for NHS users. At its most trivial, it wastes time. At its most serious, it risks lives.

It is an issue which NHS managers need to take far more seriously.

Alison Sheppard

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

I've been in the oncology system for a long time at another of the major London hospitals, so I can begin to appreciate how Christina Patterson feels and what an awful time this must be for her. However, I don't believe that that justifies her using her platform as a commentator in this way.

I've had days when things went wrong – and one case when I even made a formal complaint – but for me what is remarkable is how often the system gets things right, thanks to the small army of not-very-well-paid but dedicated people who make it work.

I don't think it is right for Christina Patterson to attack an individual nurse, or nurses in general, in this way. I think this gives a thoroughly unrepresentative picture of NHS care. All it will do is cause unnecessary worry to those going through similar tests or facing a cancer diagnosis.

Andy Miller

London, SE16

My heart goes out to Christina Patterson. But my experience is, I think, worse.

I had surgery for prostate cancer six years ago. On 2 September this year, my GP told me my PSA had gone up and needed to be urgently investigated. It took four weeks for me to see a consultant, and a further three for scans he wanted to be carried out. Unbelievably, it took a further four weeks for anyone to look at them, and a further week for me to be called back and told that an abnormal gland had been found that needed further tests. Needless to say, these have yet to be arranged. A quarter of a year later, therefore, I have no diagnosis, let alone any treatment.

Outside the crumbling workhouse where this story has been so slowly unfolding, a new PFI building is nearing completion, at vast expense. What, I am wondering, is the point if the quality of service, so soon to be moved into it, is as bad as this.

Name and address supplied

Street crime and a debate on racism

Racism is foul and corrupting, and I certainly wouldn't want racists to take any comfort from the comments I made about crime figures and race ("Liddle under fire over 'racist' blog", 7 December).

But the massed ovine bleating of "racist", aimed at anyone who puts their head above the parapet on this issue, is pretty corrupting too. It stifles debate and leads to the sort of resentment upon which the BNP has recently gorged itself.

The statistics confirm my point that people who are young, black and male are hugely over-represented in the figures for street crime, knife crime and gun crime in London. Undoubtedly socio-economic factors are one reason for this – but another, I would suggest, is something to do with culture. Not race, but culture. This seems to me close to being incontestable.

It does not mean that white people do not commit crime or that all black people commit crime. It means exactly what it says. And if we can move from there to a discussion of how and why, and how we turn it around, then that's all to the good.

Rod Liddle

Baydon, Wiltshire

I suspect it may well be true that a disproportionate amount of violent crime is committed by young black men, so Rod Liddle may be wondering why he is being accused of racism when he is simply reporting what is true.

The racism, of course, lies in selecting and highlighting this variable ahead of all the other variables which apply to those engaged in crime of this sort. For example, they tend to be male and grossly under-educated; their fathers are generally absent or involved in violence; they are no longer involved in organised sport, or religion.

They have none of the skills necessary these days to get legitimate employment, which means they are more likely to derive feelings of belonging and security from gang membership; they are almost certainly not involved in any conventional creative or artistic activity; and, perhaps, most important of all, they will have internalised the market's message that, since you are what you own, you should go out and get it and not let anyone stand in your way.

If Liddle were able to think just a little more divergently, he would realise that the serious problem of violent crime has much more to do with gender, class, education and the pernicious effects of the market than with ethnicity. It is a symptom of political, cultural and moral malaise – just like our fascination for simplistic sound-bites.

Jeremy Walker

London WC1

The wrong kind of bankers

I agree with Bruce Anderson (7 December) that Britain needs bankers, but not the sort that he has in mind, the ones that will go to Geneva if they do not like doing business here.

Britain needs local branch managers that have the experience and are given the discretion to lend to local businesses and individuals based upon a first-hand assessment of their needs and ability to repay. These bankers do not need huge bonuses, but they do need to be brought back from extinction.

Jon Hawksley

London EC1

There are strong parallels between the current concerns over city pay and executive remuneration. Namely, ever-increasing levels of performance-based compensation that, in the interests of retaining vital talent, does not decrease when firms fail to perform.

Incentives and other forms of compensation contingent on performance are notoriously problematic. In times of good, the received wisdom holds that they are a force for good by permitting firms to attract and retain the best talent and align that talent to the achievement of stretching targets. In times of bad, however, incentives can be a liability which poses risks to both the short-term and long-term financial health of a firm.

The solution for both City directors and concerned plc shareholders is not straightforward. What is required is a climbdown from unrealistic expectations created by sensational payouts. City directors and plcs need to work hard to ensure thrift in compensation spend. They must effectively manage performance expectations through means other than financial reward. Finally, they must have the courage to lose "valued" staff in the short term in the interests of survival and success in the long term.

Dr Jonathan Trevor

Judge Business School

University of Cambridge

While I should be glad to see the back of the directors of RBS and many of their greedy investment bankers, I am concerned that their departure could destroy the value of the taxpayer's stake in the bank. I should prefer the banks to remain in public ownership, but the Government is determined to re-privatise them as soon as possible.

This does provide a possible solution to the dilemma over bonuses. The banks could be allowed to allocate the bonuses, but not to pay them until after they are refloated and then only to those still working for the bank at the time it is resold.

That might be an effective way of guaranteeing that taxpayers get their investment back, because the bankers would not get their bonuses if they fail to increase the banks' value sufficiently.

Julius Marstrand

Cheltenham, gloucestershire

In virtually any other realm of properly regulated activity, those involved in the financial meltdown, whether directly or through lack of oversight and risk management, would have been summarily dismissed and prevented from operating in that field ever again.

Are we really supposed to believe that all those now grasping their way towards billions in bonuses are utterly blameless in respect of previous losses? "Everybody else was doing the same thing" is not a defence.

Andrew Whyte

Shrewsbury

In US Knox could face execution

Attacks by Senator Cantwell and others in the US on the Italian justice system, including reference to improper processing of forensic evidence and ill-treatment of Amanda Knox during her detention, is remiss. These and other well-documented failings of the US system – including the role played by wealth and race in the ability to obtain proper legal representation and a fair trial – suggest that criticism should start closer to home.

The European Convention on Human Rights, to which Italy is a signatory, also ensures that systemic failings aren't a matter of life or death; Ms Knox should be thankful that her conviction wasn't secured in Florida or Texas.

Marc Patel

London SE21

Value of single-sex schooling for girls

What a pity that the author of "The perils of single-sex education" (1 December) concludes that a mixed sixth form would have been "more challenging in all sorts of ways". It depends on the individual school, of course, but our girls grow in independence, confidence and social skills precisely because we remain single sex in those crucial sixth-form years.

Socially, they have ample opportunity to mix with boys in our neighbouring schools; they debate, act and sing with them. Yet in the classroom and common room, they are free to grow, to support each other and send themselves up in a way that would be unthinkable if they were surrounded by boys they felt they had to impress.

Heather Hanbury

Headmistress, Wimbledon High School, London SW19

The negative side of Stalin

So it seems that Vladimir Putin is finding it impossible to make a generalisation about whether Stalin "was a positive or negative figure" (report, 4 December). Perhaps I can help Vladimir out with this judgement.

Stalin was, in the century of some of the most successful mass murderers in human history, pretty much Top of the Pops with a score of around 30 million. He also presided over an appalling regime that kept Russia and half of Europe in such poverty and misery for most of the 20th century that they had to build a wall to keep them all in.

And finally, and I think this is the clincher, he sported, for his whole adult life, a very unfashionable moustache. Anything else I can help you with, Vladimir?

Pete Barrett

Colchester, Essex

Broken circle

When I heard about the coming demise of the London Underground Circle Line in its present form, I thought it was a joke, but it wasn't. What on earth were the Transport for London planners thinking? I think a "memorial" for the current layout of the line is in order.

Laurence Williams

THETFORD, Norfolk

BBC's trees

Terence Blacker (27 November) is wrong to suggest that protecting and keeping trees alive has been ignored by BBC Learning's Tree O'Clock campaign. Those given trees to plant will be advised how to ensure the tree's survival. Information will be available on the BBC website and from the BBC partners in this project. Speed planting is only taking place at supervised events.

Liz Cleaver

Controller of BBC Learning

London W12

Bike dangers

As a lifelong cyclist, I have read with interest the recent run of letters regarding cyclists riding on the pavement and the risk of death or serious injury while cycling in the UK relative to that in other European countries. While I agree whole-heartedly with those correspondents condemning cycling on the pavements, I am left thinking that if as much concern was raised regarding motorists parking on cycling lanes, then both cyclists and pedestrians would be better off.

Chris Merchant

Manchester

Body heat

A recently televised experiment showed a chicken being cooked in 90 minutes by the heat from two 60-watt incandescent light bulbs. In your report (7 December) of deteriorations to Tutankhamun's tomb we learn that the human body produces the heat equivalent of a 100 watt bulb. Could it be that if two of us packed ourselves and our raw chicken into a well insulated box – our heads outside presumably, which might reduce the heat output slightly –- we could cook our dinner without even the electricity needed to power up the bulbs?

David Buckton

Linton, Cambridgeshire

Price of a typewriter

Guy Keleny points out that the $50 cost of an American typewriter in 1963 was then worth only £18, not an "extortionate" £30 (Errors & Omissions, 5 December). However, if you apply the Bank of England inflation calculator to £18 in 1963 and convert it to 2008 figures (latest available) you get £282, extortionate indeed for a used typewriter!

Hugh Hollinghurst

Liverpool

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / Analyst (CIMA finalist/newly qualified)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / F...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Recruitment Genius: Help Desk Specialist

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides Reliabili...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Managing Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the endless and beginningless election campaign goes up and down

John Rentoul
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

What the advertising world can learn from Zoella's gang

Danny Rogers
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor