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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Campaigners say: keep our NHS services free from privatisation

SIR – Local NHS services are especially important in a scattered community area such as West Cumbria.

If these existing services are privatised, the likely outcome over time will be reduced services, longer travel times, risks to health outcomes and increasing focus on profit-making services only. Keeping all NHS services free from privatisation is very important for me and most other people in West Cumbria.

The new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) could adopt an amendment to their constitution protecting all our local services as other CCGs in other parts of the UK have already done. Yet, despite intense pressure, our area’s CCG has not done this. There is a large petition showing that local people in West Cumbria want their NHS services protected and our area’s CCG should respond to this positively. Our local doctors, through the CCG, must surely want to support the NHS and local opinion.

Stephen HAIGH

Challoner Court, Cockermouth

SIR – People of all parties who returned from fighting in World War Two were determined to develop a society in which every single member had sufficient opportunities to secure their own physical well-being and quality of life – and to develop the necessary knowledge and skills for taking advantage of these opportunities.

The NHS was introduced to meet the first of these basic requirements. It was supported by the vast majority of doctors and designed to provide free medical care for all. Today, we are seeing that care constantly eroded through pressures on the budget; the damage will increase at a very much faster rate under the proposed privatisation dictates.

The first responsibility of any private corporation is to make money for shareholders and corporations are already making their moves to take over NHS services in the hope of making a killing. They may even do this in a literal sense, however inadvertently, given the consequences of ill-conceived cost-cutting and the impact of personal profit incentives when making medical decisions. We have already seen examples in the press of how this is beginning to affect services.

If you want to do add your voice – and your own opinions – to the protests, go to https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-CCG-letter.

Every single vote – and comment – counts, so please do not delay if you wish to help save the service.

Prof John E MERRITT

Cross Street, Keswick

SIR – As CCGs take over responsibility for the commissioning of most health care in Cumbria it is vital that the constitutions of these groups provide for: a) consultation with the us, the public, before significant changes are implemented; b) maximum transparency in decision-making and the impacts of these decisions; c) taking into account ethical as well as financial issues in making decisions on care provision and d) the safe-guarding of the basic principles of our much- loved NHS.

Clauses covering all these points have been prepared by lawyers working for 38 degrees (a pressure group of over one million members). The clauses which meet the requirements of UK and EU law can be seen in the document “Protecting Our National Health Service” available via the 38 Degrees website.

Public concern during the passage of the NHS bill shows that such provisions have wide support. We look forward to seeing the clauses incorporated in our CCG constitutions.

Michael FOSSEY

Dovenby, Cockermouth

SIR – As part of the 38 Degrees campaign, I am writing this letter to ask you to support the 38 Degrees amendments to protect the NHS against privatisation.

There is a large support, as shown in the organisations petition, that local people want the NHS kept as far away from privatisation as possible.

James JACKSON

Thorncroft Gardens, Workington

SIR – Once our NHS has been broken up and divided out amongst the private healthcare companies, it will require another world war to grow enough social conscience to set it all up again.

This is just one of many reasons why I implore you to search your consciences and work to protect its shattered remnants from further wanton government-driven vandalism. Please join 38 Degrees and help save our NHS.

Ernie PERCIVAL

Whinsmoor Drive, Carlisle

SIR – May I ask the Clinical Commissioning Group that covers Cumbria, to ensure that their constitution protects the NHS from becoming privatised.

Peter LOGAN

Newton Arlosh, Wigton

SIR – I am pleased that our GPs will be making more of the decisions but I do not think that there should be much privatisation of the NHS because private firms are intent on making a profit and are not accountable.

Jean FIELD

Burneside, Kendal

SIR – Please do not do to our GPs, what has already been done to headteachers – do not turn them into business managers.

We want our GPs to cure our ills, not be constantly looking anxiously at their budgets, or worse still, trying to make a profit.

Philip BROOMFIELD

Greenacres Guesthouse

Lindale in Cartmel

SIR – I, like the majority of our population, am very concerned to protect our NHS from gradual privatisation.

Our local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) should ensure this by adopting the 38 Degrees amendments to their constituents. 38 Degrees (as many of you will know) is a British not-for-profit political-activism organisation that campaigns on a diverse range of issues of which protecting the NHS is one.

David RAMSHAW

Beaver Road, Carlisle

SIR – CCGs should protect the NHS by adopting the 38 Degrees amendments to their constitutions.

There’s a large 38 Degrees petition showing that local people want their NHS protected.

The CCG should listen – lots of us are committed to protecting the NHS from being privatised.

Paula CARRIER

Windermere

SIR – John Clarke, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, accused us of scaremongering, speculating and sharing incorrect information (The Whitehaven News, December 13).

He says “no locations have so far been identified” and that “in light of experience around the world, the Government also decided that the fairest way to find a suitable place to locate such a facility was to ask communities to volunteer”.

Now it is true everyone refuses to name Silloth or Ennerdale. But I think they have been firmly identified.

From the size of the facility described in the MRWS process the “rock volume” under Silloth is too small and too far from Sellafield. So I wonder why it is we think Ennerdale is in the frame.

With regard to the Government using the experience from other countries, we understand that other nations building geological disposal facilities found a suitable geological area first and then asked for volunteers.

Why do we always get it back to front?

The appalling waste of taxpayers’ money and the potential blight on jobs before the process ends seems to be based on wishful thinking alone.

The most annoying thing for me at the Ennerdale meeting was the smile from the NDA spokesman as he told me that the process “wasn’t costing much anyway. Only about £20 million a year”. The arrogance of these people!

Well, after a unanimous vote at the end of the public meeting, the people of Ennerdale said a clear “No” to being a host community. Unfortunately, despite all this talk of volunteering and the right to withdraw, no-one seems to be listening.

Roger PARKER

NO END (No Ennerdale Nuclear Dump)

SIR – I don’t doubt John Clarke and the NDA have safety as a high priority, but how will a Geological Disposal Facility be constructed? Will areas of the Lake District National Park become industrial construction sites?

What effect will that have on tourism? Ennerdale is one of the wilder, unspoilt areas of the Lake District. I (and many, many others) want it to remain that way.

In his first bullet point, John Clarke states: ‘If at some point in the future, initial studies showed that a particular area could be geologically suitable, and the community is willing, then some test drilling and seismic testing in a narrowly defined area could happen’.

The meeting last Monday proved that the community is NOT willing to allow any drilling in Ennerdale or other parts of the Lake District National Park. Why waste money and time proceeding further?

Please remove the Lake District and its periphery from any further investigations.

Penny KINGSLAND

Kirkland, Frizington

SIR – The name Peter Maher is not common, but there are at least two people called Peter Maher in Copeland.

One lives near Ennerdale, opposes a nuclear waste repository, rescues public houses and is unhappy with his wheelie bin service. The other lives in Whitehaven, was a senior manager at Sellafield for many years, supports the nuclear industry, is favourably inclined to a repository subject to confirmation of the geological and public relations acceptability, and is very pleased with his wheelie bin service.

I hope that this clarifies the position.

Peter MAHER

Rannerdale Drive, Whitehaven

SIR – I am writing in reply to Mr John Fisher’s letter (The Whitehaven News, November 29).

Thank you for drawing my attention to the recent report on Sellafield (which I have already read) to which you have appended much speculation in your letter. It will come as no surprise that I disagree with much of what you say.

The need to spend £60billion over the next hundred years can only be good for our local economy, the government requirement to speed up clean-up and storage has just created 500 new jobs at the plant. There is no choice with regards to clean-up, it has to be done, with sustainable jobs.

Mr Fisher may “doubt that a new-build power plant will never come” however the government has no choice but to build these new nuclear power stations and I am confident that two or three will be built at Sellafield.

In answer to Mr Fisher’s question on job numbers, the build will create approximately 5,000 construction jobs over a decade in addition to the ongoing work on clean-up/storage.

Following this, approximately 800 operators for the life of the plant (50 years +). These jobs would also be sustainable.

On the subject of wind turbines at Weddicar:

The hen harriers and their habitat are protected by English and European law.

Farmers are allowed to farm the land as they wish provided that they do not disturb the birds or damage their habitat.

Natural England did not support the windfarm as you suggest – they decided not to object provided that mitigation measures were put in place, measures which would not be necessary should the windfarm not go ahead.

I repeat we should leave the birds alone and comply with current legislation.

Banks Group has stated that it has taken into account the views of the community in its proposal, obviously it got it wrong.

If it really does want to take local views into account then it will not appeal, however, I cannot find a charity number on its letter head so we must assume it is an industrial outfit from the North East out to make profit and keep its shareholders appeased. It is not a benefactor.

I am accused of scaremongering, with regards to devaluation of houses in the locality, so I would draw his attention to the Daily Mail (July 23): “Windfarms DO hit house prices. Windfarms can wipe tens of thousands of pounds off the value of nearby homes, a government agency has admitted.”

Also The Cumberland News (August 31): “Council tax cuts for houses near turbines. Admission that value slashed”.

If these six turbines were to have been built they would be amongst the highest structures in Cumbria, at 375ft as high as the valley is deep, built on the skyline.

They would have had a severe negative impact on tourism revenue and investment; house values; and views from certain villages.

The vast majority of local people (over 90 per cent) are against the windfarm, 650 letters of objection were received, all of the parish councils voted against it.

The councillors that we voted in agree with the majority of people and voted accordingly. It is called democracy.

This will be my last reply to any more letters from you on this subject as I believe most points have been made and I don’t feel that I have to defend my and the majority’s position, we will just have to agree to disagree.

John VOUT

Arlecdon

SIR – May I, through your paper, ask people to please think long and hard before buying a puppy or taking on a rescue dog in this season of ‘good will’.

Too many are returned or dumped when the novelty wears off and children don’t find the puppy cute any longer because it grows up!

Don’t give in to emotional blackmail and please, please, please don’t buy over the internet unless it’s from a well-known rescue centre or an established breeder.

Dogs are not toys, they should not be bought or got as Christmas presents, the saying from the Dog’s Trust is still very valid today – A Dog is for life not just for Christmas!

Jean MILLIE

Egremont

SIR – Thank you very much to several people who came to the aid of my mother when she suffered a nasty fall in Church Street, Whitehaven, on December 10.

Two ladies and a man provided tissues and comfort.

They used mum’s mobile phone to contact me, and helped her into Brooks in Duke Street, where staff kindly looked after her until we got there.

As a token of our gratitude I have made a donation to the Whitehaven branch of Age UK – to keep the kindness circulating.

National newspapers often run articles about similar incidents where, rather than helping, passers-by run off with handbags and purses. It is heartening to be reminded that we are fortunate to live in a community where people still care about, and look after, each other.

Roxine A. BEAUMONT-SEMPILL

Bigrigg

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