Letters: Snubbed doctors volunteering to help with vaccination must persevere

Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 candidate vaccine - Paul Ellis/PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 candidate vaccine - Paul Ellis/PA

SIR – We sympathise with all the retired doctors like us who have been having difficulty volunteering for a clinical role, including vaccinating.

What is needed is a single entry point, which recognises the expertise of this large group of professionals, who are desperate to help, and qualified to do so, and which cuts through all the paperwork.

There are multiple entry points to become a vaccinator, but they all involve being employed and paid by the NHS, and endless bureaucracy.

Tiresome and upsetting, it feels like a snub after years of practising safely, but it’s the only way for now. Don’t give up: it is becoming increasingly apparent that we are needed after all.

Dr Victoria Hamilton
Dr Rhys Hamilton
Woodcote, Oxfordshire


SIR – In contrast to Claire Barker’s 21-document paper chase (Letters, December 26), my husband completed an online application form, one phone interview, one zoom verification, a DBS check and a health questionnaire. A retired consultant anaesthetist, he is looking forward to his first training day with NHS Wales.

Sue McFadzean


SIR – Now that we have two vaccines authorised for use, surely the most sensible and efficient method is to vaccinate all front-line staff with the Pfizer vaccine as they will have super fridges that can keep it below -70C.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be kept at normal fridge temperature, could then be sent to care homes and other priority groups across the country.

Simon Bedford
Relubbus, Cornwall

SIR – My employment provides medical insurance, so I only use private medical services. My private GP says I must now register with the NHS to get the Covid vaccine.

Private clinics all over the country must have thousands of patients who qualify for an early jab but are being forced to go to a struggling NHS.

Why can’t vaccines be supplied to private practices, thus relieving the strain on the NHS and increasing the number of locations where inoculations can be had?

Christopher Marriott
London SW11


SIR – It is understandable that the focus is on UK residents, but I hope those of us who live overseas, including diplomatic staff, will not be left to the vagaries of whatever country they are in. Embassies or consulates should be enabled to provide this vital service.

Gregory Miller
Bangkok, Thailand


SIR – You report (December 28) that a government source has said: “We are operationalising everything for the first Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs in arms.”

This is presumably the process known as “operationalisation”.

Charles Lewis
London N2


An Etonian debate

SIR – The headmaster of Eton dismissed teacher Will Knowland – and was advised to consult the child safeguarding authorities (report, December 28) – after he make a lecture entitled “The Patriarchy Paradox”, which was considered too dangerous for sixth-form boys to watch.

One would naturally conclude that its content must be revolutionary, inflammatory, subversive, original and, of course, convincing. It is, in reality, a mishmash of a few good points – for instance, men have broader shoulders and are therefore more suited than women to jobs involving heavy lifting – others that are misleadingly phrased – such as that, although women did not have the vote, it was not really unfair because until the 20th century not all men had it – selective interpretations of data and generalisations.

Mr Knowland’s lecture should be a great basis for sixth-form debate – a provocative topic, full of Aunt Sallies to be knocked down, non sequiturs and inaccuracies to be identified, and counterarguments to be researched.

If, as the headmaster obviously fears, Eton schoolboys are so feeble-minded that they can neither think for themselves nor be taught to do so, the fees do seem rather a waste of money. On the plus side, it is unlikely that the future will see many more Old Etonians in the House of Commons.

Barbara Ford
Guildford, Surrey


Junk the holly

SIR – Paul Bedelle (Letters, December 29) asked whether anyone took their Christmas decorations down earlier than just after lunch on December 27. My wife had finished by 10am.

John Frankel
Kingsclere, Hampshire


SIR – My decorations will be staying up until I am able to have a Christmas with my family. After all, taking them down by Twelfth Night last year doesn’t seem to have worked.

Sylvia Smith
Great Moulton, Norfolk


Vest and suckers

SIR – Our family decided that since the festival would be a pale imitation of our usual celebrations, the presents should be memorable.

Notable among mine were a string vest, two suction devices for attaching grips to a shower cubicle and a Beano annual.

Dr Ray Bralsford
Plymouth, Devon


Level Brexit field

SIR – The Prime Minister deserves huge credit for enabling Britain to leave the transition period with a better than expected trade deal with the EU.

The EU clearly sought to restrict competition from a resurgent UK by insisting on a mechanism to insure we don’t deviate too far from it in terms of standards, thus maintaining its obsession with the single market rules.

However, it appears not to have understood that this is a double-edged sword. Now the UK can insist on the EU matching our standards lest we are undercut in trading.

For example, we are now within our rights to demand that those EU nations that don’t pay their workers the same minimum wage as we do should have tariffs on goods exported to Britain, and that maternity and paternity rights are harmonised with our levels.

More importantly, why should British businesses be subjected to unfair competition from Irish companies, which enjoy a significantly lower corporation tax rate than is in force in the UK?

I suggest that the lawyers for UK plc work on getting a level playing field with our EU competitors.

Steve Narancic
East Challow, Oxfordshire

SIR – What happened about that enormous sum of money that we had to pay the EU in order to leave?

Did the negotiators forget it?

Or, as I suspect, has it been paid but is better not mentioned?

Kevin Platt
Walsall, Staffordshire

SIR – The Prime Minster has said that “Britain will have its cake and eat it”.

Will that be fishcake?

John Webster
Highcliffe, Dorset


The cost of flying

SIR – David Attenborough now describes as a paradox his frequent travel in order to provide us with captivating programmes versus his own environmental beliefs (report, December 28).

I appreciate the complexities of climate change, but, speaking as one who had my trip to see my son in New Zealand curtailed at Bangkok airport in mid-March, I am desperate to be able fly as soon as possible. How else am I to get there?

Elizabeth Edmunds
Hassocks, West Sussex


SIR – I am impressed by Sir David Attenborough’s commitment no longer to fly and am happy to make the same promise – if and when I reach 94.

Christopher Timbrell
Kington Langley, Wiltshire


Quelle catastrophe

SIR – We were in France when, aged 11, our younger son spotted the perfect man bag (Letters, December 30). He came out of the shop triumphant and we admired his new handbag. He said that it was not a handbag but a sac à main, which we explained was French for handbag. I wish we hadn’t as, horrified, he never used it.

Phyllida Smeeton
Headley, Hampshire


Early jars

SIR – I have just completed my annual Seville orange marmalade making earlier than ever before, using excellent-quality fresh fruit.

Should I put this down to global warming, Brexit or Mr Macron’s attempt to block the free movement of traffic from the EU?

Claire McCombie
Woodbridge, Suffolk


A dashing gesture will be remembered forever

An Unexpected Question, painted in 1922, by the British artist John Seymour Lucas - Bridgeman Images
An Unexpected Question, painted in 1922, by the British artist John Seymour Lucas - Bridgeman Images

SIR – Rowan Pelling’s amusing paean for the great romantic gesture against all odds (Comment, December 17), including a rueful acknowledgement that her husband’s most passionate declaration of love is limited to public hand- holding, caught my wife’s fancy.

We’ve only been an “item” since 1958, however she frequently and fondly recalls my marriage proposal: all in pouring rain on the edge of a sodden Northumbrian golf course, while my parents’ spaniel cavorted happily in an overflowing midden.

Edward Cartner
Alnwick, Northumberland


Britain’s aircraft carriers have played a vital role

SIR – Sir Max Hastings never misses an opportunity to have a dig at Britain’s aircraft carriers, most recently in a report about armoured recce vehicles (December 29).

I am uncertain whether Sir Max has ever set foot on an aircraft carrier, but he will recall, as a writer about global conflict, that in the Second World War Germany, Italy and Japan could not have been defeated without the critical contribution of aircraft carriers in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, in every major amphibious landing and, in particular, in the remorseless allied fight across the Pacific.

In Korea, the only British air support to ground forces was provided by carrier-based aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm. Sir Max might also reflect that it was a carrier-led task force that took him to the South Atlantic in 1982, kept him safe there and returned him home, along with his reputation.

Unfortunately, with the telescope to his blind eye, so to speak, he also affects a selective view of the current and future context of maritime operations and warfare at sea, with the sort of argumentation and anecdotage that only a non-specialist would recognise.

I would urge Sir Max to visit one of our aircraft carriers at sea. He might learn something to his, and the country’s, advantage.

Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry
Portsmouth, Hampshire


SIR – Your report drew attention to the fact that the Scorpion, Scimitar and Samson light tanks were most useful in the Falklands war of 1982. They were designed to be air portable, so weight was kept to a minimum with the extensive use of aluminium armour. They were very fast, with a maximum speed of more than 50mph, but, more importantly, their light weight of 8 tons and broad tracks kept their pressure on the soggy Falklands peat low. This was demonstrated by a tank commander jumping out of his vehicle and sinking up to his knees, while the tank remained safely supported by the soft ground.

Tim Vale
Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire


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