Letters: NHS simply needs the right people

These letters appear in the Monday 9th September issue of the Independent


It is a good thing that funds and courses are being made available to encourage staff of all disciplines to work in A&E.

However, each discipline within the hospital environment – whether it is working in A&E, or with the elderly, in the operating theatres, with children, or people with psychiatric disorders – depends on whether or not there are staff who have both the vocational calling to that discipline and have the capability to work there.

I work in the operating theatre department of my local district general hospital.

This is also an area that requires a specific mindset. I work alongside some colleagues who perhaps would be better employed in other areas. A few see that they have found themselves in a place that is not appropriate to their talents and move on to extend their experience elsewhere: some in a ward capacity, others working in a community setting, or in the intensive care unit.

Some, however, stay within  the area  in spite of the fact that their talent may not be appropriate to the discipline.

I have even known staff members find jobs in A&E – but then find that this is not their calling and return to work alongside us in the operating theatres.

The fact that there are staff shortages in all areas could be that there are people who do not have the desire to be there, or the family circumstances to accommodate the shift systems; or in the case of A&E  they may not even consider that is the area in which they want to work, vocational calling or not.

The extended availability of money and education is a good thing. But those opportunities can only be positive if there are people willing and capable of making good use of them.

Tessa Bennett, Littlemore, Oxford


Recently, on a bank holiday, I needed medical help and went to an A&E department. It was busy and there seemed to be many people on trolleys with drips etc.

However, in only two hours I had an x-ray, urine test, blood test, abdomen ultrasound scan and enema. All the results were available to the consultant and I was prescribed necessary antibiotics and discharged, and have made a full recovery.

Could anyone expect a better service? It would seem that I was lucky to have gone to a state-run A&E department in Srinagar, India, rather than a UK A&E department.

Steve Horsfield, Hoby, Leicestershire


Lobbying Bill would leave us  in the dark

While most recent criticism of the proposed Lobbying Bill has focused on the chilling effect it would have on charity campaigning (“Lobbying Bill to be re-drafted over charity concerns”, 5 September), we are concerned it will not do the job for which it was intended: ensuring that lobbying in the UK is transparent and effectively regulated.

As it stands, the Bill would only cover a small fraction of active lobbyists, leaving the public in the dark about the rest of the UK’s £2bn lobbying industry. It will also not reveal any meaningful information on their activities. A decent lobbyist register would say who is lobbying whom, what they are lobbying for, and how much they are spending.

We urge Government to redraft the Bill so that it provides citizens with a genuine opportunity to scrutinise the activities of lobbyists. Crucially, it should not be restricted to consultant lobbyists, but should include in-house lobbyists, big consultancies who offer a range of services, and other entities that offer lobbying services, such as think tanks.

If the Bill goes ahead as it is, it will be a major blow to the Government’s aspiration to be “the most open and transparent in the world”.

Dr Rufus Pollock

CEO, Open Knowledge Foundation

Robert Barrington

Executive director, Transparency International UK

Gavin Starks

CEO, Open Data Institute

John Christensen

Director, Tax Justice Network

and directors of 11 other transparency organisations


We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement that certain parts of the Lobbying Bill require a rethink. However, the Government has yet to recognise that it will not deliver its central aim of increasing transparency of the lobbying industry.

The proposals would only require a minority of professional lobbyists in the UK to register. Only around one in five works for consultancies. The bill must be withdrawn or radically amended. I urge the Government to work with the industry, all parties and the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, to produce a universal statutory register of lobbyists.

Francis Ingham

Director general,  Public Relations Consultants Association, London SW1


The Lobbying Bill presents a threat to legitimate campaigning in the UK. While the Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, said charities were excluded, he admits there are “uncertainties” in the law, and the Electoral Commission foresees problems and major uncertainty arising from the Bill. 

This Bill creates a serious risk to charities and campaigners across the UK. We must act now to  ensure that what passes into law  is sensible, fair and good for democracy.

Dr Andy Williamson, Esther Foreman, London E9


Railways can go back to the future

Proposals to reopen any of the lines closed by Dr Beeching are always said to be hugely expensive. How is it, then, that private individuals with teams of volunteers have managed in their spare time to re-lay, run and maintain narrow-gauge lines for tourist steam trains?

Diesel locomotives of this gauge are available to buy. They are used the world over in mining operations and steelworks. Narrow-gauge trains are much lighter than conventional trains. They run passengers services all over Sardinia.

Our old Victorian bridges and viaducts are under less pressure from narrow gauge. Could re-laying some Beeching lines using narrow gauge be cheaper and affordable? The track bed is almost always still there, and in some places sleepers also. Ninety-five per cent of the job is already done for us.

Is this a better way of relieving pressure on the rail network than spending the money on HS2? 

Nigel F Boddy, Darlington


Opposition to HS2 is based on environmental as well as economic grounds, and the fact that there are cheaper, quicker alternatives.

The increase in passenger usage is slowing, and the proposed alternatives would cope with all reasonably calculated projections.

No, Oliver Wright (Inside Whitehall, 3 September) the West Coast Main Line (WCML) is not “full”. As for the disruption an upgrade of the WCML would  cause, it would only be a tiny  fraction of what HS2 would  lead to.

 HS1 is fine for those who travel direct to St Pancras but has given much worse services to everyone else living nearby. HS2 would do the same, as many towns and cities near the line, eg Liverpool and Coventry, would have worse services.

Antony Chapman, Wendover, Buckinghamshire


Modesty better than bare breasts

When you broke the story (4 September) that topless feminist protesters Femen had a “patriarch” running the show, I’m not sure many people were too surprised. The tactics of this group are comically chauvinist. By baring their breasts to “free” oppressed Muslim women, what they’re really telling sexist men is that women should strip if they want to be listened to.

When a Muslim woman chooses to dress modestly and wear a headscarf, she does more for feminism than Inna Shevchenko and her topless, brainless “jihad” ever could – she tells society that she doesn’t want to be judged for her outer beauty. Instead, she wants to be judged for her inner beauty – her character, intellect and abilities. What could be more feminist?

Umar Nasser, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire


Teather must go

Sarah Teather doesn’t agree with the Government’s necessary stance on immigration and benefits caps. As this parliament has more than 18 months to run, she should resign and allow her successor the privilege of representing Brent Central from which she intends to abdicate.

Dominic Shelmerdine, London W8


Blame leaders  – not the UN

Your leading article (“Inaction stations”, 7 September) calls the UN “no more than a fractious talking shop”. And what of the G8, the G20, the European Parliament and, indeed, our own?  It’s the people, not the institution, that one should blame.

The UN Security Council gave unanimous support in April 2012 for Kofi Annan’s plan to deploy the 300-strong observer mission in Syria. The war zone was quiet when they arrived but, shamefully, they were only a handful. By 9 May 2012, they numbered only 70. Without its planned nationwide impact, the mission was doomed.

Kofi Annan’s plan failed not through disagreement among the five permanent members but by their failure to show leadership.

David Wardrop

Chairman, United Nations Association Westminster Branch

London SW6


Congratulations to Robert Fisk for the finest and clearest exposition of the Middle East mess: truthful, objective and dispassionate – qualities in short supply among our juvenile leaders.

JEAN DALE, Crawley,  West Sussex


President Eisenhower warned: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

The US and the West tried “feet on the ground” in  Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Result: loads of money for the arms manufacturers, lots of misery and refugees. It seems they ignored Eisenhower’s wise advice.

The nations who peddle arms should be the ones to give most to the Syrian refugees. The big three are the US, UK and Russia.

Michael Melville, Northwich, Cheshire


Brought to book

Joan McTigue wrote (Letter, 7 September) about a councillor at Redcar and Cleveland Council “reading a book” during a meeting.

I was that councillor. With a choice between feigning interest in interminable speeches from our Lib Dem opposition or making notes on a book about a Jewish family who had to flee Hitlerism to find a new life here on Teesside, I chose the latter – not least because I have been tasked to review the book for a local newspaper, and because of the similarities with the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in today’s society.

David Walsh, Skelton, Cleveland

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