Heart unit move creates real problems

Have your say

From: Steve Singleton, Parklands, Ilkley.

I BELIEVE the campaign to stop the Leeds children’s heart surgery unit being relocated will only be won if truly practical and shaming questions are asked of those in power, from the practical perspective of young patients and their parents; preferably direct to David Cameron, Nick Clegg, the Minister for Health and Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the panel which made the decision.

1) What is the furthest distance you have ever had to travel, regularly, to see any of your children in hospital? (Leeds to Newcastle – their proposed new centre for Yorkshire child heart surgery, apparently – is 97.5 miles distance, approximately two hours by car, but obviously more at after work commuting times).

2) Do you know what the cost of the cheapest return rail fare, for travel today, is for each parent from Leeds to Newcastle? (£90.30 each, assuming they take the afternoon off work, leave Leeds at 3pm and return on the 9pm train).

3) How often per week do you believe each parent could afford the time and money to do that on average wages? (always assuming they had no other children to cater for at home).

In my opinion, any of the people named above who cannot answer these questions with equivalent experience and provide practical answers to the difficulties the new location poses are completely unqualified to formulate the policy or justify relocating the child heart surgery facility.

From: Malcolm Hanson, Bachelor Road, Harrogate.

I HAVE not previously joined the discussions with regard to the closure of the children’s heart unit in Leeds, however I feel I must make some comment regarding the letter from Sir Neil McKay (Yorkshire Post, September 15).

Firstly, he states: “By pooling surgical expertise and expanding care closer to home we will improve outcomes and clinicians will save more children’s lives.” How can it be closer to home when a child from Leeds and surrounding areas has to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for treatment ? Has Sir Neil looked at a map lately? Has he tried travelling to those two cities in the middle of winter? I suspect not.

Secondly, he says that “they” listened to the views of the parents. “They” obviously didn’t listen hard enough or “they” would have heard the outcry from the people of Yorkshire.

His whole letter appears to be an excuse to justify the decision to close the Leeds unit which he knows could be a wrong decision. He is doing to children’s heart surgery what Dr Beeching did to the railways.

Time to leave Afghanistan

From: Ian Dewar, RAF Ret’d, Thompson Drive, Middleton on the Wolds.

I AM sure all readers share my sadness at the further losses incurred amongst our troops in Afghanistan. Our first thoughts must be for the families of these brave men, who will endure this great loss for an inestimable period of time. These increasingly frequent incidents, where allied troops are slain by insurgents wearing the uniform of those we are “mentoring”, must cast real doubt on the short-sightedness and false hopes we harbour over Afghanistan.

We know from history that as a withdrawing of occupying forces approaches, the number of attacks increase. I remember personally the draw-down in Aden in the 60s, followed by the quick demise of those forces we were “mentoring” – and we can all remember those last few months before British troops withdrew from Iraq. And then the end result? No-one can honestly believe that this country will be safer as a result of this conflict. Yes, we (the allies) have managed to kill a significant number of al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in highly-publicised raids, but from all accounts the latter is now stronger than ever – so much so we are actually having to negotiate local peace treaties and safety corridors to allow the safe conduct of troop or supply convoys. Now Nato troops are limiting the number of “joint” operations with Afghan soldiers and security forces for fear of incurring further losses – a sure sign the situation is now truly out of hand.

I believe the time has come to re-evaluate this mission and take some decisive action ahead of that day, before these worst fears are realised.

We are dealing with an unstable country with a proven, corruptible government whose president has been more a hindrance than help in past months. I join many others who now say, enough is enough!

A neglected spectacle

From: Ron Shipley, Westwoodside, Doncaster.

I FIND it rather annoying and disappointing that one of York’s annual attractions is not given any publicity by the local media. This is the York Festival of Traditional Dance, which features morris dancers from various parts of the country, including as far afield as Brighton.

I have attended the event several times and this year it was the 25th annual festival, but I have not seen one mention in the Yorkshire Post nor the two regional news programmes on television.

For television and also photography it was a spectacle worth capturing. The costumes were in vivid colours, some wore multi-coloured raggycoats, others in colourful skirts, smocks and waistcoats. The music was traditional, with some famous old tunes played on fiddles, concertinas and drums, accompanying the dancers.

Taking part were three teams from York, others from Otley, Skipton, Whitby and Beverley. Surely, proof that there was plenty of support from around Yorkshire. Indeed, not only locals, I spoke to several people who were greatly impressed from Canada, the USA and Scotland.

Why is there is no coverage of this marvellous event presented by the York group, Ebor Morris?