Health review consultation was thorough

From: Sir Neil McKay CB, Chair of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts.

I STRONGLY refute claims that the consultation has been “skewed against Leeds General Infirmary” over children’s heart surgery and that we made it difficult for minority groups to take part (Yorkshire Post, November 8).

The review has been transparent and robust and engagement with the minority groups has been extensive – one in five respondents to the consultation were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, nearly 2,000 organisations and individuals from various vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups were approached for their views and 20 focus groups and many interviews with families were organised with BAME groups.

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In October, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts had started to consider the views that people in Yorkshire and the Humber had shared with us during consultation, including those on the importance of co-located services, patients’ travel patterns in north England and new options including the Leeds unit. It is very unfortunate that the court’s ruling, which we intend to appeal, may now prevent us from considering these views.

The court’s ruling shows that making changes to health services is never easy. The Royal Brompton won on an obscure technicality around the process for considering centres’ compliance with the research standards. However, the judge dismissed many of the spurious allegations made by the Brompton, including claims of bias, misinforming consultees and predetermination.

Earlier this week, the Judge rejected claims by the Royal Brompton Hospital that the consultation document was fundamentally flawed and had misled the public. There is still strong support for change. Parents and clinicians have told us that change is necessary and we remain committed to delivering this change.

We will reach decisions on the future of these vital services no later than spring 2012.

Poor deal for teachers

From: Derek Round, Bunting Drive, Clayton Heights, Bradford.

I WISH to reply to the submission from D Davies (Yorkshire Post, November 7) that teachers have time to recover, as they get at least 13 weeks a year of holidays!

The first point I wish to make, is that if you took the time to research how much of the teacher workforce actually reaches the current retirement age, then maybe you would be surprised to find out that only just over 50 per cent actually get to retirement.

Let me put this another way. When you start off on your teaching career, you have just a slightly better than a 50/50 chance, that you will actually get to retirement!

And let me put this yet another way. When you start your teaching career, there is a good chance it will make you ill as you approach retirement age, and you will have to go prematurely, with all the negative effects that this will have on yourself.

Is this acceptable? In a caring humane society, I don’t think so!

Teaching is such a stressful job, that at the very least we need to give teachers a chance to recover from the intensity of working so hard during the term time.

And if we accept that teaching eventually makes you ill? What will be the effect on the workforce of forcing elderly, worn out teachers, to continue working toward a new even older retirement age, that is on the horizon? Yes, you’ve got it, more premature and early retirements, and even more ill teachers.

And yes, I am a retired ex-teacher, and as you’ve probably worked out, I don’t think teachers actually get a good deal at all.

History and the Minster

From: David C Glover, Baker Fold, Halifax.

AS a regular worshipper at Halifax Minster, and a senior member of Halifax Antiquarian Society, I enjoyed reading your feature on the church in your supplement (Yorkshire Post, November 5).

It is a wonderful and fascinating building, with a remarkable history. However, having studied the building in detail, and read very widely about it, I am puzzled by your claim that the Minster is “Yorkshire’s oldest medieval Church.” The medieval period is commonly considered to extend from the Norman Conquest of 1066, until 1485, when the Tudors took the crown. While there are scanty remains at Halifax from an earlier church, I cannot agree that claim.

Most of the structure of Halifax Minster dates from the first half of the 15th century, (probably the 1430s) barring a portion of the north wall, which is either late 13th century, or mid 12th century, depending on which historian one believes. This does not mean the Minster is Yorkshire’s earliest medieval church; and neither is it West Yorkshire’s oldest medieval church.

Inside the West Yorkshire boundary there are surviving earlier medieval parish churches, such as All Saints,’ Sherburn-in-Elmet, which includes much Norman work.

Consider also St John the Baptist, Adel, “one of the best and most complete Norman churches in Yorkshire,” as the latest Pevsner guide tells us; it is usually dated to c.1150-70.

I am also surprised to learn that Halifax Minster is a “praying community” of 200 persons. There are currently fewer than 200 on the Minster electoral roll, which includes many who never worship with us. The regular congregation numbers barely more than 100.

Profiteers of pyrotechnics

From: R Cartlidge, North Lane, Wales, Sheffield.

FIREWORKS, at least the loud banging ones, should be outlawed on two counts – immoral, dangerous.

Guy Fawkes paid more than his defamatory price. But the demonising of our moral conduct and depricating behaviour is totally discreditable despite the failed plot, abominating all Christian ethics.

Burning a human effigy is psychologically disdainful and its an aid of wilful debauchery. The manufacturers and sellers are the real beneficiaries – the profiteers.

The danger to eyesight, burns, shock and fear, even to animals! Hospital casualties become prevalent. We possess a cruel, oblivious streak to our character.