Letters: We desperately need more hospital beds | NHS

While accepting that the Conservative government has underfunded the NHS compared to other Western countries, this is only part of the reason why there are big differences in the number of hospital beds (” Doctors tell Javid: NHS crisis caused by you, not Covid”, News). Since the 2000s, I have seen plans by trusts, health authorities and commissioning groups that reduced the number of hospital beds and psychiatric hospitals, motivated, in some cases, by problems of labor and the need to centralize specialized services, but by the belief that acute services should be provided in the community.

Double running costs were never factored in to ensure community services were up and running before beds closed. This has led to a dire situation for mental health patients and unacceptable and dangerous bed occupancy rates in the acute hospital sector. This approach was largely due to the Ministry of Health. To restore patient confidence, reduce horrendous waiting lists and improve staff morale, it is imperative that the government fund an immediate expansion of NHS beds.
Dr Christopher Clough, former Chairman of the National Clinical Advisory Board and Medical Director Royal Colleges of Physicians
Whitstable, Kent

Pro life and pro abortion

I am appalled by the recent judgment of the United States Supreme Court on abortion (“Banning abortion is Trump’s legacy. Women across America will pay the price”, Editorial) . I am pro life. That is to say, I am pro planetary life in all its diversity. I am pro life in the sea, forests and land. I am pro life in my new pond, now teeming with tadpoles, most of which will be eaten by dragonfly larvae or newts. Life is also death.

The problem on planet Earth is that a particular life form gets in the way. It’s humans. In 1800, there were less than a billion people on the planet. The discovery of coal and then oil and gas has brought immense benefits over the past 200 years. But it also allowed for a current population of eight billion, which has crowded out other life on the planet as we have destroyed and polluted natural habitats. We are experiencing the sixth great extinction.

Pro life means there should be fewer people, not more. Sex education, family planning and access to abortion as a fundamental right must be at the heart of this pro-life vision.
Anthony Turner
Teignmouth, Devon

Fishing for sympathy?

I read with interest your article about the high fuel costs of the Brixham fishing industry (“If fuel goes up we can’t afford to fish – trawler captains”, News). In 2008/9, Greenpeace said high oil prices had done more to reduce damaging industrial fishing than it had in 30 years.

The industrial trawlers mentioned by Barry Young, managing director of Brixham Trawler Agents, are the least deserving of fuel subsidies: why should taxpayers subsidize such fuel-intensive and environmentally damaging fisheries? The fuel per kilo of fish caught consumed by these industrial fleets is up to 10 times greater than the fuel used by coastal fleets. In addition, industrial trawlers are fishing closer to shore, jeopardizing the fisheries of many small coastal fishers, whose livelihoods depend on it and who have a far greater multiplier effect in the local economy. If the fisheries were better managed, there would be plenty of fish in the sea. Unfortunately, it’s the greed of Brixham’s wealthy few who continue to peddle their tales of doom.
Caroline Bennett

Elegy for the Lost Poets

I share Rachel Cooke’s sadness that the OCR examination board is removing the work of poets such as Thomas Hardy, John Keats, Philip Larkin and Wilfred Owen from its GCSE English Literature syllabus, but not entirely for the same reason (Notebook. English Literature at A- is down as a result of Sheffield Hallam University’s decision to suspend its English Literature course. It is crucial that English Literature at GCSE level engages pupils, which requires to refresh the program from time to time.

After reviewing the poems contributed by OCR, few pass Clive James’ test: “With a poem, the most important thing is how it sounds when you say it.” I can’t make many sounds more appealing than a weather report. Only a handful possess enough energy, musicality or beauty to make them memorable, especially for young people accustomed to memorizing the lyrics of pop or rap songs. The majority, I’m afraid, lack aesthetic appeal. Some poems are even a little awkward. They are unlikely to help stem the decline in popularity of English literature in schools.
David Head

Burnham has the brilliant idea

Keir Starmer’s analysis of the result of the Wakefield by-election (“Labour have now claimed center ground – and shown they can win”, Commentary) is worryingly complacent.

Last August, following Andy Burnham’s lead, Starmer said he would paint his vision in primary colors, but still speaks in generalities, which won’t clarify the public’s perception of what he stands for.

Burnham’s proposals include electoral reform, housing as a human right, an end to precarious work, a national care service and the renationalisation of the railways (“Why it’s time Labor backed representation proportional”, Comment). These can be expressed in simple language that resonates with voters. If Starmer doesn’t take up the challenge, the shadow cabinet must.
Dr. Anthony Isaacs
London NW3

Worksop is where it’s at

Kitty Empire’s excellent article on Cresswell Crags in your Hidden Histories (“Going Underground”) supplement is marred by her claim that there is “very little to do in Worksop”. Worksop contains Mr Straw’s House, a townhouse frozen in time from the 1920s and owned by the National Trust. Then there’s nearby Clumber Park, Sherwood Forest and the Welbeck and Thoresby estates. I could go on…
Geoff Griffiths
Bawtry, Doncaster

Disconnect in style

Alex Clark’s article evokes one of the most beautiful resignation notes (“I quit! The art of quitting in style”, Focus). Foreign correspondents of newspapers in the era of transatlantic communication by telegram wrote in journalistic shorthand to save costs; the full article would be fleshed out by the editor. While in America, Evelyn Waugh considered her articles sacrosanct. Therefore, he would transcribe his writing on a telegram, verbatim.

The cost did not come down much and the newspaper, after repeated warnings to shorten the telegrams, issued an ultimatum: shorter telegrams or you are out of work. Waugh’s resignation telegram was a miracle of brevity: “JOB UPSTICK ARSEWISE WAUGH”.
David Hill
Penryn, Cornwall

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