Letters: GPs have no right to demand extra funds for resuming normal service

·9-min read
a GP takes a patient's blood pressure - Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
a GP takes a patient's blood pressure - Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

SIR – Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the British Medical Association’s general practitioners committee, says that GPs need more money to resume face-to-face appointments – something they accepted as normal practice before the pandemic.

Am I alone in wondering why?

Stephen Howey
Woodford Green, Essex

SIR – Anyone who provides any sort of service to the public will be familiar with Dr Myles Johnson’s complaint (Letters, September 17) that patients have “unrealistic expectations” of their GPs. It comes with the territory.

However, expecting to get an appointment to see a GP within a reasonable amount of time to discuss a worrying health matter should never be classified among them.

Fortunately, however, Dr Richard Vautrey has the remedy: 30 pieces of silver.

Allan G Jones
Rhuddlan, Denbighshire

SIR – What next – teachers demanding more money to stand in front of a class, or policemen wanting more to go out on the beat?

Tony Manning
Barton on Sea, Hampshire

SIR – As a former member of the BMA’s GP committee, I am ashamed that its current chair denies the suggestion that patients are receiving worse care due to the rise of telephone and video consultations.

The evidence – from the many letters you and others have published, and from coroners’ reports – is definitely to the contrary. I know of one person who has been unable to see his GP about a knee problem, and has had to go private; another needs a blood test, which has been cancelled; and when I telephoned my GP practice, I had the call cut off after holding on for 40 minutes.

The reports of a young girl who died of appendicitis after three telephone consultations are but the tip of the iceberg. GPs must resume face-to-face consultations. I do, however, agree that more needs to be done to increase the number of GPs available.

Dr Malcolm Freeth
Bournemouth, Dorset

SIR – Selecting medical students exclusively from those with the highest grades does not produce the right mix of doctors (Letters, September 17).

The selection criteria of my Scottish medical school in the early 1960s were very different, but they were effective. From an initial class of 94, only three dropped out (with health problems). The rest of us stayed the course, passed finals and qualified. We had started our studies with the intention of a career in medicine and the result was a mixture of academics, consultants and GPs who, with a few exceptions, pursued their careers full-time.

Times have admittedly changed, but something has gone wrong with the selection process for future doctors.

Dr C D E Morris
Walsall, Staffordshire

Russian gas

SIR – You accuse Russia of rigging gas prices. Rig: “to manipulate in a fraudulent manner.”

As far as I can see, there is nothing fraudulent in what Russia is doing. If we choose to rely for our energy on a combination of uncertain providers (wind) and coercive regimes (Russia), it can come as no surprise when calm days allow such regimes to hike their prices. It’s called pricing according to demand, and it’s what hotels, airlines and many others do every day.

Until we encourage the development of cheap, assured and sustainable national energy supplies, we can expect this to happen again and again.

Christopher Wilton
Petersfield, Hampshire

SIR – That Russia has weaponised its energy supplies is as predictable as the sun rising.

After the Fukushima incident, Germany switched off its nuclear power industry pretty much overnight and increased coal-fired supply and gas imports from Russia. It has also bought into the Baltic pipeline, which bypasses Ukraine and Poland, to Russia’s advantage. For a Nato member to be dependent on Russia is beyond parody.

All countries, and especially Britain, should be installing small modular nuclear reactors, and Rolls-Royce should be supported by the Government to supply them.

Dr Keith Sumner

Ethiopian treasures

SIR – I am British-Ethiopian, and attended the recent ceremony at the Athenaeum marking the handover of Ethiopian treasures looted during the 1868 Battle of Magdala (a battle quite different from most others fought by Britain in Africa during that era, in that Abyssinia was a sovereign nation). I therefore read your report (September 16) about the possible return of 11 tabot – sacred tablets – by the British Museum to Ethiopia with interest.

However, I would take issue with your suggestion that the museum may return the tabot due to a “decolonisation loophole”.

That the tabot are “unfit” objects for the museum collection has nothing to do with decolonisation (not least because Ethiopia was never colonised). These are objects which are of great importance to Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and have a religious use in Ethiopia (each is a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, and every church must have one, to be kept in the inner sanctum and paraded – shrouded – on festival days). They have no use in Britain, and are indeed so sacred they may never be seen, but must be kept in storage for perpetuity, at a (surely great) cost to the taxpayer.

This is in no way related to the Black Lives Matter movement; nor is it to do with repatriating colonial objects. It is therefore implausible to argue that returning them will set a precedent for other objects held by museums. There is no compelling reason to keep them.

This, I understand, is the argument advanced in a letter to the British Museum’s trustees by Tahir Shah’s Scheherazade Foundation, which has been at the forefront of efforts to return the tabot.

Zewditu Gebreyohanes
London SE11

Covid-safe kissing

SIR – Hamish Watson (Letters, September 18) is right. Kissing hands is the most hygienic and elegant greeting – especially given that (a French friend tells me) the lips and hand should never actually connect.

Shirley Puckett
Tenterden, Kent

Macron’s sour grapes

SIR – During the EU referendum, Emmanuel Macron – at that time the French economy minister – said that Brexit would make Britain “as significant as Guernsey”.

Now that we have left, and decided to join forces with the United States and Australia in establishing Aukus, French ministers are denouncing Britain as merely a lapdog of the United States.

The real reason for this insult, of course, is that the US and Australia clearly prefer our Guernsey-like country to France.

Mike Patterson
Camberley, Surrey

SIR – No wonder President Macron is displeased with our new pact. He can see the wisdom behind Brexit. This deal is great for defence and enhances our global standing.

Andrew Munday
Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

SIR – How can the French be upset about our alliance with Australia and America to defend democracy in the Pacific region when they cannot be relied upon to control Calais beach?

Gerald Simpson

SIR – This must be something new in diplomacy: the French insulting the British by not withdrawing their ambassador.

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Northwood, Middlesex

Let’s get this straight

SIR – Young Michael Deacon is having trouble understanding the difference between “this weekend” and “next weekend”.

From Monday to Friday, “next weekend” refers to the one commencing on Saturday, whereas “last weekend” refers to the one that ended the previous Sunday.

The phrase “this weekend” is only used on Saturdays and Sundays.

Alan Spriggs
Guernsey, Channel Islands

SIR – The distinction between “this” and “next” is more clearly defined for pilots.

In a position report, the time is given for the point just passed, the estimated time for the upcoming point, and the name of the position after that is called “next”.

So next weekend is the one after this weekend.

Keith Macpherson
Clevedon, Somerset

Beer glasses that give drinkers a better deal

Still Life with Beer Glass, by the 17th-century German painter Georg Hinz - bridgeman
Still Life with Beer Glass, by the 17th-century German painter Georg Hinz - bridgeman

SIR – It is good news indeed that the Crown Stamp is to be restored to British beer glasses.

I hope the new glasses needed to accommodate the mark will be oversized, with a line at the pint measure to ensure that customers are receiving exactly what they are paying for.

Geoff Johnson

SIR – Could breweries now start producing bottled beer in pints rather than 500ml sizes?

Fred Wilson
Newcastle upon Tyne

SIR – I am of a generation which was brought up exclusively on imperial weights and measures. Indeed they are still useful, particularly when cooking.

Nonetheless, I am both surprised and disappointed by the plans to reintroduce pounds and ounces in shops. I had thought that post-Brexit Britain was supposed to be an outward-looking and progressive country.

Resurrecting a measurement system that has no place in a digital world is not likely to impress our trading partners.

Peter Brass
Moulsford, Oxfordshire

The perplexing priorities of climate protesters

SIR – I would have more time for Dr Grahame Buss’s justification of his actions as a climate protester (Letters, September 18) if he and others directed their anger at those governments which, unlike ours, have not obliged themselves by law to reduce their countries to economic penury within 30 years. (Perhaps a superglued sit-in outside the Chinese Embassy would be in order.) Moreover, why he imagines that the planet will be saved once Britain has eliminated its 1 per cent contribution to the world’s carbon emissions is a mystery.

In the meantime, the disruption caused by the protests – some of which is literally endangering the lives of others – is self-defeating. The real issue is the disgraceful behaviour of those police who, rather than upholding the law, bend over backwards to facilitate the breaking of it. They and their indulgent superiors should be sacked.

Philip J Ashe
Leeds, West Yorkshire

SIR – Regarding Camilla Tominey’s article, there is another reason for the problem she identifies. Since the rebranding of the police as a “service”, the organisation has become, in all but name, part of the social services. Members have been steeped in this culture, while the courts have become more lenient towards the kind of behaviour we are seeing today. The police must return to being a force, whose duty is to uphold the Queen’s Peace.

Bob Tozer
Torbay, Devon

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