Newmarket Journal readers' letters to the editor
An attack on government spending on health and social care over the last decade or so leads this week's letters.
WE DON’T SPEND ENOUGH ON HEALTHCARE
It is truly excellent news that the Covid-19 vaccine is successfully being rolled out across the UK and much praise should rightly be given to our scientists and the NHS for the progress that has been made.
However, we should not allow this recent good news to draw our attention away from the complete failure of this government to protect its citizens. We have to ask ourselves how does one of the richest nations in the world end up with more than 120,000 deaths from Covid.
A cursory examination of why things have gone so badly wrong, quickly leads to the conclusion that it is not just the failures (and there are many) of the current government that is the problem but the decade of continuous cuts to public services that have been overseen by successive Conservative governments. David Cameron promised to reform Social Care back in 2010, Boris Johnson said it was his top priority in 2018 and yet nothing has happened. Similarly, while funding for the NHS has allegedly been ‘protected’, it has failed to keep up with demands, and for many years we have seen reductions in the number of hospital beds and vital community services such as District Nurses. We simply don’t spend enough on healthcare. We have far fewer intensive care beds than our neighbours in France and Germany and overall we spend spend less per head of population.
The significance of these shortfalls is that even before Covid, the NHS has experienced a bed shortage every winter for at least a decade. The only way it has managed to cope is by cancelling planned hospital treatments (including cancer surgery) and by rapidly discharging older and vulnerable adults into hard-stretched and under-resourced social care provision. When Covid struck, the current government went one step further, with disastrous results. They forced many older people to go directly from hospital into care homes. In many cases this was done without testing or consent. As a consequence, the virus rapidly spread resulting in 25,000 deaths in UK care homes by January 2021.
While there is much debate about how we move forward once the virus is under control, one thing that it is clear is that there needs to be a commitment to adequately fund and restructure both the NHS and adult social care. But it can’t just stop there. We know that people on low incomes and in poor housing have suffered disproportionately from the virus. The services run by councils and their partners that might reasonably be expected to help, have also had their funding cut.
To date, this government’s approach to meeting the long-term challenge has largely focused on quick fixes and rhetoric such as the ever-increasing use of slogans such as ‘world beating’ and ‘levelling up’. But empty words will not cut it. If we are to truly give priority to the health and well-being of all of our citizens, it is essential to commit to adequately funding the NHS, Social Care and the other key public services that impact directly on people’s lives.
Richard O’Driscoll, Bury St Edmunds
WHAT IS IT STOPPING RENOVATION WORKS?
Yet again the curse is upon Queensbury Lodge. Ever since we have lived in the area (some 40 years) the saga of Queensbury Lodge continues! Whatever is it, that stops this building from being renovated and made to look presentable at the top of our town?
Deidre Burton, Exning
COURT LISTS ARE AN EYE-OPENER
Thank you for providing us with our weekly insights into local culture.
Our favourite section by far is Court Lists. Mrs D and I have devised a game we call ‘guess how fast he/she was going’ to keep us entertained while we read about the good people of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire putting the pedal to the metal. This also serves to improve our knowledge of local road conditions and where the local constabulary could be staked-out. If you guess the speed correctly, you are are awarded the same points handed down by the magistrate. There is a bonus point if it is the land-speed record that week.
Time permitting, we also like to play ‘guess the controlled-substance found in their blood-stream’ – full chemical-composition please, no slang (crack, smack, whacky-backy etc.). Hours of entertainment.
Andy Dargle, via email
AIR CADETS MARKING 80TH ANNIVERSARY
This month marks the 80th anniversary of the RAF Air Cadets and the RAF Benevolent Fund has joined forces with the cadets to launch an online book collecting memories from former and current members, asking them to share what their time as an air cadet meant to them. Visit rafbf.org/aircadets for more information.
Mike Straney, RAF Benevolent Fund