Thursday's Letters: NHS Centres can relieve workload for hospitals and doctors

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YOUR front page and Editorial on new NHS Centres was timely (Yorkshire Post, December 27). As a GP who also manages a new GP centre in Grimsby, I can understand the different points of view.

There is a need for the centres, as the demand shows. Our Grimsby centre has a growing registered list as well as an above target number of walk-in patients.

We performed a survey which found that over half the local non-registered patients attending our centre did so because they were unable to obtain an appointment at their own GP, sometimes for several days.

I do not agree with Dr Vautrey that the vast majority of patients attending do not need medical help. The "duplication of services" argument is a myth.

However, I would agree that a small percentage could have managed by seeing the pharmacist and self-medicating. This is a matter of patient education.

Rather than closing successful established centres, surely it is best to explore how they can relieve GP and A&E workload. In the future all services will need to demonstrate their cost effectiveness including walk-in centres and traditional GP practices.

Both may have to adjust their working practices accordingly. If local GPs insist a walk in centre should be closed, then perhaps they should suggest how they can improve access to Primary Care using existing GP practices.

Understandably, GPs are not keen on working on the evenings or at weekends so this might prove difficult. Closing centres is not something that should be decided by local GP consortia or the PCT whose staff will want jobs with new consortia creating a potential conflict of interest.

From: Dr Paul Charlson, Westfield Park, Brough.

From: Brian A. Jones, Consulting Actuary, Clinton Streetm, Brooklyn, New York.

BOB Bury's opening paragraphs on medical costs are funny (Yorkshire Post, November 22).

After that, his analysis is full of financial howlers; I found them equally funny. When he talks about the cost of the cancer-treatment facility, he simply adds costs payable today to costs payable 30 years down the road.

Similarly when he compares an 11bn cost to the total of 50bn (looks high) which will be paid over time. Wrong. Has he never heard of interest?

Mr Bury tells us that the latter "was done to keep the capital costs off the balance sheet of 'prudent' Gordon Brown". Not so. It looks as though it is simply paid over time, just the way the rest of us often finance our house by taking out a mortgage. When we do so, we do not add up all the future payments, including the interest component, and lament that the total exceeds the face amount of the mortgage. Of course it does.

I will not try to second guess Mr Bury on the medical part of his letter as I am an uninformed layman when it comes to medicine. He would do well to remember that he is clearly an uninformed layman when it comes to finance.

One symptom of that is that he cites George Osborne with apparent enthusiasm. The new Chancellor is also a very uninformed layman when it comes to finance: he was quoted in the New York Times just a few days ago declaring that "Ireland stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policy-making".

That was in 2006.

Council fills its coffers with car charges

From: Dr Pam Jarvis, Colton, Leeds.

I WAS horrified to get a parking fine for 60 for parking on the Colton Retail Estate while doing my Christmas shopping on December 17. I am very busy all year and did most of my shopping on this day in Poundstretcher, Pets At Home, Boots, Next, Argos and Sainsburys.

We have lived on the Colton Estate for nearly 25 years (pre-dating the construction of the retail park), so have used the shops there since they first existed, and this has never happened to us before. Up to the arrival of this notice, I have in fact always made a point of supporting local traders whenever possible.

I vaguely remember that when the retail park first opened there were large information notices detailing fines for parking for over six hours, which seems reasonable.

However, at some point, this has been changed to fines for parking for over three hours which seems absolutely ridiculous over the Christmas period in particular, when there are no doubt a lot of busy women like me who have to cram a Christmas shop into one day, using crowded shops where time is taken up by queuing.

The new information notices relating to the fines are also quite small and cannot be easily read from a car as the old ones could. You have to walk up to them and read from a few feet away.

I am now in the position of having spent around 500 on the retail park during this trip and consequently being charged an extra 60 for the "privilege".

When I enquired in the Sainsbury's on the site, I was told that the decision to impose such fines, and the money gathered from this, is the responsibility of Leeds Council and that the individual retailers can do nothing about it. They are apparently also concerned as they have had quite a few complaints from customers and have even tried to have some of the fines quashed with no success; the message I got was "if we could do something about this, don't you think we would, with regard to the impact on our business".

I gathered that even some of the retail park staff and their relatives have received the same notices from the civil enforcement agency for going over the allotted parking times!

This seems to me to be a prime example of the city council sneakily filling its coffers via a practice which acts against the interests of local people and local traders in a time of recession.

Student fees are taxation

From: Nick Martinek, Briarlyn Road, Huddersfield.

THE Government has managed to hoodwink the public into believing student tuition fees are about "fairness". Actually, they are about extra taxation – otherwise general taxation would be reduced.

The aim is to make people into state debt serfs to pay off the monstrous debts created, not by students or the general public, but by the previous Labour government, its useless regulations, and its friends in control of the banks.

Now the very rich and the very powerful are trying to make ordinary people pay for the previous government's mistakes.

It is grotesque and vindictive to saddle a 21-year-old with a 30k-plus debt right at the start of his or her career. Older generations of graduates had it cushy compared to the current crop. There is the tax money too.

It is just being wasted on windmills (18bn on the Climate Change Act), the EU (14bn on the EU), DFID (10bn) and the banks (goodness knows how many billions).

A vision of the Monarchy

From: Douglas Hartley, Irving Terrace, Clayton, Bradford.

REPUBLICAN letter-writers would prefer an elected president rather than the Monarchy. I agree with Richard Heller (Yorkshire Post, December 4), that the Queen should be thanked for "60 years of devoted duty as a constitutional head of state".

I do wish that she had been assertive in warning her prime ministers about the advancing power of the European Union; although under the constitution, she can only advise. That she conferred a knighthood on Edward Heath, I regret.

I am reading a novel written in 1995 by a modern historian. The story is set in the year 2045. Britain is a mere cluster of regions in a European empire. A referendum has taken place in 2015. Voting was electronic. By means of a reversed microchip, the result was cunningly manipulated in favour of a "yes" vote for federalism. The British Parliament has dissolved itself, bringing to an end centuries of reproductive, parliamentary government. The EU president, the Commission, the Directorates, rule totally.

There is an English Resistance Movement, but no citizen is secure from the vigilance of the Political Intelligence Department – the EU's "KGB."

The Royal Family has emigrated. William is King of New Zealand. The Republicans and the Europhiles have had their way.

In the end, King William is allowed to pay a visit. He addresses a huge crowd in Hyde Park, explaining the true history of Britain from 1939-2045, which is not taught in schools, in colleges, nor referred to in the media.

He is head across the country, via the internet. There follows a wave of national pride. The falsified referendum is set aside. EU rule is cast off. A provisional Government, formed from the English Resistance Movement, is leading the way to a re-unified United Kingdom, to restored democracy and sovereign independence; and to the return of a constitutional Monarchy.

Who on earth eats their dinner in the evening?

From: Eric Houlder, Fairview, Carleton.

FOR most of my life I ate my dinner at dinnertime. Later, I ate my sandwiches at dinnertime, and had my dinner at supper time, but throughout, everyone understood that dinnertime was very definitely placed somewhere between midday and about 1.30pm. In proof of this, for much of my professional life I collected dinner money from assorted pupils each Monday morning.

The foregoing diatribe was prompted by a television programme which purported to come from Yorkshire, but which described a meal at dinnertime as "lunch", pronounced "lanch".

What are we coming to? Are we all turning into southern softies? And when did the main meal of the day, always eaten around the middle of the day throughout the country into living memory, become the spineless "lanch"?

I have even heard of Christmas Dinner being called Christmas Lanch! What an abomination.

Yorkshire folk need to get their act together, and banish the interloper "lanch" into the limbo (probably around the Home Counties) from whence it came.

From: Judith Kay, Oaks Green Mount, Rastrick, Brighouse.

REGARDING the ongoing dialect debate, my grandmother used to call babies and toddlers "buckstick", as in "you little buckstick" in the context of their being up to mischief.

Assuming the spelling is correct, I cannot find any definition of this word. Can any readers help?

From: Rhys Coleman, Otley.

HOW pleasant to hear Geoffrey Boycott's Yorkshire accent on Test Match Special in the middle of the night. He is compulsive listening – the best sports pundit going with classic phrases like "you need a brain to bat" or "my mam could have bowled him out in her pinny".

Does anyone know whether Mrs Boycott was as good cricketer or whether she just bowled at a young Geoffrey? And how about a book on "Boycottisms"?

Vital work of gamekeepers

From: Chris Ramus, Duchy Road, Harrogate.

IN recent years, game shooting has had its critics. During this very harsh weather, gamekeepers work in all kinds of rough conditions to make sure pheasants, partridges and water fowl have all the food they need, not just to stay alive, but to stay in top condition. However, it isn't just these game birds that benefit from the gamekeepers' hard work.

The feeders full of wheat are a life-saving source of food when all the natural food is covered by snow and frost. All the wild birds in the countryside stay alive courtesy of the food put out for game birds.

Next time you go walking in the countryside and you see all your favourite birds, remember their survival may have been due entirely to the hard work of gamekeepers.

Chequed in

From: William Dixon Smith, Welland Rise, Acomb, York.

I FEAR the answer to Joyce Blakeston's conundrum, "When is a cheque not a cheque?" (Yorkshire Post, December 24) is not, unhappily, as she surmises: "When it's a paper-based payment system."

I recently transcribed a T-shaped letter addressed to the artist William Etty in the early 19th century. It was T-shaped because, as the writer explained, the letter originally bore two hand-written cheques, which the recipient, quite understandably, had removed. Convenient, practical, and free.

If a "paper-based payment system" displays all these three qualities, I'll eat my cheque book.

Party partners

From: Alec Denton, Oxford Avenue, Guiseley.

WHAT a pathetic attempt by a national newspaper to generate sales by presenting as news exactly what we already knew.

Lib Dems and Conservatives are different parties with different approaches towards resolving the mess left by Labour, but in spite of their differences, they are prepared to work together for the good of the country, and that is to their credit.