YP Letters: Dangers of reliance on credit card

From: David Craggs, Shafton Gate, Goldthorpe.

Visa has apologised after a system failure prevented card payments across the UK and Europe.

AN expression that I first heard as a child some 70 years ago, but I never hear today, is “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Although its meaning was never explained to me, I was able to work it out.

If, say, you had a dozen eggs, rather than placing them all in one basket and run the risk of breaking them all if you dropped it, put them in two or more baskets, so that if you dropped one you at least had some eggs left over in the other baskets for your breakfast.

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But this is precisely what we are doing when we use a piece of plastic to carry out all our financial transactions on the high street, and if for some reason the system goes ‘down’, as it did last week with Visa, chaos inevitably results.

I personally despair when I see someone, usually a young person, pay £1.25 for a sandwich using a card. Not too long ago one saw signs in shops saying “cards not accepted for transactions under £5”, but those appear to have now disappeared.

I suspect that those who had cash on them to pay for their supermarket shop were older, and dare I say belonged to a more sensible generation.

Governments, particularly western ones, know that it’s only a matter of time before a terrorist cyber attack will hit their utilities, their health service and their various financial systems, and one of those ‘systems’ will be the one involving the use of the credit card.

Wouldn’t it just be common sense to make sure that you always have cash in your purse or pocket, just in case? You would then be able to at least pay for those essential food items to keep you going for the next few days.

Alas, I suspect that the majority of those who were hit last week by the Visa breakdown will be shopping this week without a coin in their purse or pocket, the attitude being surely it can’t happen again? Well, it can, and it will. And this time it could well be terrorist-related, and not last just a few hours, but possibly days... even weeks.

Shake-up is healthy

From: Richard Saberton, Leeds.

NOW the Government has belatedly decided that it is politically expedient to talk about setting up adequate funding for the NHS, it is to be hoped that they will also completely overhaul the service.

Merely throwing money at this massive institution is not enough. It needs a massive shake-up and review of its current management and practices, a lot of which are just not fit for purpose.

While the vast majority of the staff are hardworking and dedicated, there are, as in all large institutions, those who are just not up to it either through lack of ability or lack of motivation. Those happy to let others carry the heavy load, to watch rather than to act or help.

Anyone who has spent any time in a hospital will know that there are those who do and those who are always walking the other way with a piece of paper in their hand doing something ‘important’, or who will be ‘back in a minute’.

Those same ones who are always missing when there is something hard or unpleasant to do or arrive just after everything has been sorted, bleating ‘you should have waited for me’. The managers who have been promoted beyond their capabilities and understanding and are consequently unable to lead and direct their staff. These people must be weeded out and retrained and instructed in what is expected of them – and if they can’t or won’t step up they should be sacked.

It may seem harsh but if the NHS is to survive another 70 years it must be done.

If it isn’t, then no amount of money will make the NHS fit for purpose and will open the door again for future governments to start implementing cuts. Public opinion will also soon change if they don’t see major changes resulting from the increase in taxes that are currently being talked about.

Let doctors work here

From: Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association council chair.

WE welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement to review Tier 2 visa allocations, further to extensive lobbying from the BMA and other bodies to end arbitrary caps which are preventing competent overseas doctors from working in an overstretched NHS with a serious shortage of medical staff (The Yorkshire Post, June 4).

It is important that the Home Secretary acts swiftly, so that the NHS can recruit the hundreds of available overseas doctors who can start work imminently to ease pressure in a health service under escalating strain.

The NHS could not survive without the vital contribution of overseas doctors, and it is vital that the Government puts the needs of patients first by implementing a flexible immigration policy that allows us to employ the doctors needed to serve the needs of the nation.

A welcome flying visit

From: Pat Wood, Hawksworth.

IT was mentioned (The Yorkshire Post, May 30) that ornithologists were intrigued about the lack of swallows and house martins in the area.

I have lived in Hawksworth village in West Yorkshire for a number of years now, and each year swallows have come to nest in the barn. In the last five years, house martins have also come to nest here too.

One feels very humbled to think that these little birds fly all the way from South Africa to spend the summer at my home.