From the point of view of public relations, to relinquish the requirement for 24-hour responsibility for one’s patients was a disaster for the profession of general practice. Those chickens are now coming home to roost, with the Conservative plan for surgeries to open seven days a week.
I have to admit that at the time it was a delight to have a full night’s sleep and to know that weekends would be uninterrupted, and all for very little financial penalty. Even before that, a feeling had taken hold in the profession that preventive work was more noble than getting involved in the mucky business of treating the sick.
Our political masters were seduced by talk of burnt-out doctors, work-life balance and disease prevention, allowing us to get away with it, so that the work of general practice became almost exclusively office based.
But prevention only puts off illness for a while; eventually, we all get sick and need medical attention, often at the weekend. Now, deskilled in the arts of acute medicine through spending too much time chasing blood pressure targets and so on, GPs find it hard to deal with real illness. Respect must go to paramedics and hard pressed A&E staff for undertaking that work on our behalf.
Having recently retired as a jobbing GP, I feel that the profession needs to sort itself out, if it is to regain the respect of the public. We have become lifestyle advisers and battlers with bureaucracy (both laudable activities) rather than the first port of call for people with acute medical problems.
I would advocate splitting GPs into two types, those who do hands-on medicine, who can be seen at short notice, and those who chase targets at a more leisurely pace. In a world where a pizza can be obtained at any time of day or night, why should access to a GP be any different?
Everthorpe, East Yorkshire
T Sayer (letter, 25 September) is a good example of the blind prejudice that hinders progress in the health service. If he read the letters in your paper, he would have seen at least two recent letters from Americans treated by the health service praising it in the warmest possible terms.
There are obviously things wrong with the health service. No such huge organisation is perfect, and there are difficulties in keeping up with rapid changes in medical treatment. But in spite of these deficiencies we know from the available figures that it is still one of the best health services in the world, and far more financially efficient than those in many other countries.
Heaven save us from becoming once again the sort of uncivilised society like the US in which the biggest cause of personal bankruptcy is inability to pay medical bills when insurers have refused to continue covering treatment.
Maresfield, East Sussex
Look, son, only Tories can sort out Europe
Regarding your report “Ukip’s shadow lengthens as two more high-profile Tories jump ship” (1 October), I entirely disassociate myself from my son’s action.
It is a huge misjudgement, as with Reckless and Carswell. He has never been a member of the Conservative Party and has been apolitical. I did not know that he was intending to stand for Ukip in the general election.
By taking votes off our marginal seats, Ukip will simply let Labour and the Lib Dems in; there will be no referendum and even more Europe. To change our legal relationship with Europe requires a majority in the House of Commons and only the Conservatives can do this.
Sir William Cash MP
House of Commons
Here we go again. In your editorial of 29 September, you accuse Ukip of being anti-European. For the record we are as European as all the other parties. It is the EU we are anti. Not the same thing at all.
Littlehampton, West Sussex
Why the extensive coverage of Ukip’s party conference, when the same consideration is not given to other smaller political parties?
We don’t see this coverage of the Green Party conference, or Respect. These at least have the advantage of having elected MPs in Parliament, something Ukip, for all its bluster, is unable to say.
Burchill’s rant against a Rabbi
I write regarding Emily Dugan’s article “Ranting about the rabbi: what did she do to make Julie Burchill mad?” (27 September)
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah was my personal tutor and mentor through rabbinical school. She offered me support in moments when I struggled, and was fearless in challenging me to be a better rabbi. She is the person I chose to ordain me when the time came. She is an honest, hardworking, brave, compassionate and wise rabbi. She and another colleague have paved the way for LGBT people in the Jewish community, including those like myself, to have the opportunity to become rabbis.
Throughout the crisis in Israel and Gaza this summer Jewish people were constantly criticised in the media for our allegiance to Israel. Yet when Rabbi Sarah showed empathy towards the people of Gaza and the Muslim community, she was attacked by Ms Burchill.
I am astounded that Rabbi Sarah and her partner Ms Woods’ hospitality has been used against them by Ms Burchill. Despite the author’s previous behaviour, they invited her into their home. Yet Burchill has launched a tirade against them in her book.
Burchill’s assertion that the couple were inappropriately affectionate with one another would be laughable. However, it strikes at the heart of a familiar prejudice against the LGBT community: that when we show affection towards a spouse it is excessive and unnecessary, when the same affection shown between a married straight couple would not even be noticed. Quite frankly, Ms Burchill should know better.
I urge you and all publications to stop giving Julie Burchill a forum in which to vent her hate. Instead, support the endeavours of those who are genuinely attempting to make the world better, for all of us.
Rabbi Judith Levitt
So Julie Burchill is angry because she took two bottles of champagne to a dinner party and was served with her hosts’ home-made elderflower concoction. I’m with Julie on this. With the university year just starting, I have one essential tip: never take a decent bottle of wine to a student party. It will immediately disappear into a bowl of truly vomitorious punch.
The Tories hope to introduce legislation to ban extremist groups and crack down on “harmful individuals”.
This is excellent news. An early use of the legislation should be against a fanatical group packed with dangerous zealots whose main aim is the cruel repression of large numbers of people whose only crime is to be unlucky in the lottery of life.
I refer, of course, to the Tory party.
Empower women and defeat Isis
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (29 September) writes that bombing will not defeat Isis, but Steve Brewer (letter, 30 September) is entitled to ask for an alternative. Military action is an extension of politics, so an analysis must come first.
The median age in Syria is 23 years, and that is typical of the region. High birth rates with no prospects are the problem. The enterprise to re-establish the Caliphate will excite and attract unemployed young men, but the subsequent sorrow and trauma must be borne by the women.
The answer lies in the empowerment of women, but how? Every Middle Eastern city is covered with satellite receiving dishes, so these are the channel through which Muslim women could be educated. Money should be spent on this and it will be a cheap option.
The wrong kind of progress
Your articles on the shrinking of the animal kingdom and the projected world population increases in Tuesday’s edition are clearly related. And yet we are continually told that we need 250,000 more homes and need to expand our airports.
Enough is enough. Progress doesn’t necessarily mean increasing financial gain but can also mean improved quality of life for animals and humans.
Democracy in Hong Kong
Imagine what Hong Kong’s position would be like today if Britain had handed over an established democracy, rather than an aspiring one.