The attitude of the Atos Healthcare spokesman in your report about Iain Duncan Smith deciding MS and Parkinson’s disease are curable (23 October) is astonishing. He states that their healthcare professionals are trained in the assessment of these chronic conditions.
Perhaps they should go back to training classes as they clearly have not understood these conditions at all. As a specialist health professional with many years of experience in Parkinson’s, I have never come across a single person with the condition who gave up working any sooner than was absolutely necessary.
The decision to terminate paid employment is always very difficult to come to terms with and many people with Parkinson’s have carried on longer than might be advisable, with some detriment to their physical health. To suggest that Atos is in any way competent in assessing level of function and making a fair and honest appraisal is an affront to all the people to whom they have denied the benefits they should have been entitled to.
Atos could rightly claim responsibility for increasing some of the well-recognised and quality-of-life-affecting non-motor symptoms such as anxiety and depression. It’s high time this process was made fair and transparent.
After spending half an hour in my bathroom, I spent another half an hour getting together the medication that limits the pain and suppresses (most) of the violent spasms that make my legs cramp up and my hands turn into claws.
I get through the day one way or another before taking liquid morphine to dampen the pain in my neck and upper back (the MS is now attacking my spine) so I might get some sleep. I would like to thank Iain Duncan Smith for announcing the cure for MS. Can he also tell me when the pain and indignity of my condition will go away?
With the major political parties all welcoming the NHS report (News, 23 October), this is the opportunity for them to agree on bold new ideas on funding, that individually they would not dare to propose. It is clear that more money is needed; but expecting to find it by savings is optimistic.
Pensioners are major users of health services yet, once retired, contribute nothing. Paying a national insurance contribution – reduced so as to contribute to the NHS but not to pensions, would be fair.
I should make it clear that I am a pensioner!
Many of us who are now retired have been beneficiaries of free education, free health services, generous pensions, and so on. Perhaps it’s time for us to share more of the funding burden.
There has been much talk recently about the NHS saving money by concentrating upon prevention rather than cure. This cannot work and is brought about by lazy use of language. Preventative medicine is clearly a very good idea. Childhood vaccinations and cancer screening are wonderfully successful programmes that work very effectively. They do not, however, save lives. They prolong lives.
The long-term effect of the superb service that we get from the NHS is that we have an ageing population with record numbers in their 80s, 90s and even 100s. Thus it is disingenuous to pretend that preventative medicine saves money. In fact it creates ever increasing numbers of older people upon whom, quite rightly, large sums of money must be spent to meet their medical needs.
Instead of giving encouragement vouchers to obese people, they – and all those who deliberately risk damaging their health by binge eating and drinking, drugs and alcohol – should be charged for all the resultant medical care and attention they receive.
That would reduce the drain on the NHS and discourage the irresponsible with idiotic lifestyles by hitting them hard in their pockets instead of adding to the burdens of others.
Wimborne Minster, Dorset
How soon before this increasingly callous government declares that the dead are actually fit for work, and tells them to stop lounging about all day in their coffins?
Botham’s interest in wildlife is to kill it
Ian Botham and his gang describe the RSPB as a “vampire squid hoovering up conservation funds”. (Report, 24 October). In fact, Botham and his gang appear to think that conservation of wildlife habitat should be for the purpose of providing victims for blood sports.
In 2008, Botham objected to a plan to release European beavers in Scotland. He told The Telegraph it would be “catastrophic for salmon fishing”. Note, “salmon fishing”, not “salmon”. In other words it’s his “sport” he values, not living, breathing, miraculous beings.
EU’s £1.7bn demand will spur on sceptics
Own goals do not come much more spectacular. Assuming that the EU wants to keep Britain a member, it could hardly have proceeded more wrong-headedly. By its £1.7bn cash demand to this country it really has poured petrol on the flames of an already heated discussion.
There are, of course, benefits to UK membership and the EU represents a noble aspiration to transnational cooperation. But without a bit of gumption at the top, it could soon be minus a member.
Why is Farage a regular columnist?
I have been a subscriber to The Independent since the beginning of this year, and look forward to reading it every day. Yet, like a previous correspondent, I am puzzled as to why Nigel Farage is, alone among party leaders, given a weekly column in your paper.
Today (Another Voice, 24 October) he uses most of his column to defend a calypso recorded by Mike Read. It may be acceptable for him to do so, but what I find repugnant is his suggestion that the “left”, in itself is a vague and ill-defined term, is more outraged by this than about sexual abuse in Rotherham. I can see no evidence for this.
I have no objection to right-wing columnists. I used to enjoy the pieces by Bruce Anderson and Dominic Lawson. But they were not party leaders; and Ukip’s policies and general stance seem so at variance with The Independent’s ideals that I find the acceptance of Farage as a regular columnist hard to understand.
A rush to judgement about 14 children
Gillian Smith’s letter (24 October) appears to have accidently appeared in The Independent rather than the Daily Mail. If she believes that the man with 14 children has no thought for the “cost [of his children] to his country”, then clearly she believes him to be unemployed or unable to work and claiming benefits other than child benefit. What if he isn’t claiming any other benefits?
Child benefit, let’s not forget, is a near-universal benefit, the amount of which would not incentivise anyone to have 14 children, and hardly qualifies the country as “looking after these children”.
It could well be that the man is earning more than £50,000 per annum and therefore receives no child benefit at all, and actually contributes more in taxes than he would ever receive from the state. As for over-population, perhaps his 14 children will all get high-earning jobs and their taxes will contribute to Gillian Smith’s pension, or perhaps this man is already contributing to her pension. The only certain thing is that we shouldn’t make rash judgements without knowing the facts.
There’s more to Wales than Dylan Thomas
As a resident of Swansea, it’s easy to agree with John Walsh’s comments on Dylan Thomas (Voices, 23 October). Laugharne is a fascinating township and well worth anyone’s visit but, for many reasons, must rely on the fame or infamy of the poet for much of its livelihood. So well and good.
But Wales has many more charismatic characters, some of whom don’t seem to get a look-in. WH Davies of “A dull life this, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare” fame had an involved and varied life worthy of study. And, it seems, for those who want excitement, TE Lawrence was born in the Principality.
But all we get is Dylan!
Sean T Jackson
Socialist historians making it easy for Mi5
The fact that MI5 spied on some of the most prominent post-1945 British intellectuals such as Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm tells us something unpleasant about how liberal our democracy actually was in the Cold War era. One hopes that in these austere times MI5 is not still at it. If they want to know what modern-day socialist historians are thinking they can check our Twitter feeds.
Dr Keith Flett