Price of NHS
BILL Wiggin in his letter ‘Priceless NHS’ defends his party’s management of the NHS and of course blames the Labour party for its ills. 
It is certainly true that New Labour embraced PFI with regrettable zeal, but the initial concept was a Tory one. 
In truth the NHS has been badly treated by all the political parties. 
Dr Mike Hall, in his earlier letter, laments the severe and predicted shortage of hospital beds in the county. Of course he is right, and the process of decision-making which led to the building of a hospital which was too small, is emblematic of the wider problems which face the NHS. 
The size of the hospital was decided by the price that could be afforded and not by what was needed. 
We all knew at the time that it was too small, but our arguments were ignored and NHS managers and politicians argued that we were wrong. 
When it comes to policies on such things as defence, governments are braver. 
They agree amongst themselves on what the minimum level of provision is to be, then fund it. 
When it comes to the NHS, they decide on the level of funding and then expect it to provide a service for which it is under-resourced. 
They then cleverly distance themselves from the blame by using terms relating to the providing organisations such as ‘overspent’ (implies mis-management by the providers) instead of the more accurate term ‘underfunded’. 
You hear politicians defend their management of the NHS by saying ‘You can’t cure the NHS by throwing money at it’. Well, you can’t cure it just by throwing money at it, but more money would certainly help. 
What is really needed is expectation management and then funding to manage that expectation. 
That would mean defining an NHS with a much more limited scope than at present and a probable rise in (income?) tax to fund it. 
Now that would take political courage at an unprecedented level.

Truth on PFI
BILL Wiggin’s wholehearted support for the NHS is welcome (Dec 8). 
However, in his eagerness to score political points about the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) he is being somewhat economical with the truth. 
This policy was introduced by the Conservative government in the 1990s as part of Mrs Thatcher’s misguided drive to “create an internal market” for the NHS.
As the local spokesperson for the BMA at the time, I spent a lot of time opposing the proposal to fund the building of the new County Hospital by means of PFI. 
I argued that it would prove to be an uncontrollable drain on the local health economy for 30 years. 
Before the 1997 election, the Labour Party promised to ditch PFI. To its shame, it quietly reneged on this commitment after 10 days in office.
Billions of pounds have been spent on the NHS by this and previous governments. Sadly, many billions have been squandered on pointless reorganisations, on procurement exercises to service the internal market and on lining the pockets of hedge fund managers rather than on patient care. 
The current government remains committed to PFI. Will Mr Wiggin’s now be lobbying against this policy?

NHS trust?
I WAS astounded by the letter written by Bill Wiggin (Hereford Times, December 8) attempting to re-cast the Labour party as the destroyers of the NHS and the Tories as its saviour. 
I almost choked on my cornflakes! 
Please do not take the general public for fools. We know that the NHS is being gradually privatised as we speak and for Mr Wiggin to claim otherwise is, quite frankly, absurd. 
Witness Virgin Healthcare Ltd and its takeover of many services in the south. They are there to make a profit (at our expense) and certainly not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. 
His platitudes sound disingenuous and patronising to an over-stretched work force that hasn’t had a decent pay rise in years and are not likely to in the foreseeable future. 
It is especially galling coming from a politician who enjoyed a backdated 10 per cent pay rise from last year. 
The health service has always operated to a certain extent on good will, but as personal finances are stretched and costs rise, this will increasingly wear thin. 
We do need an open and honest debate about the funding for the health service, as there are no limitless funds available for it. 
The ideas of Labour’s Frank Field deserve scrutiny. He suggests taking the health service out of the hands of the politicians and put into a mutual trust owned by the people. 
Yes, we do need to talk about the NHS, but for Mr Wiggin to attempt to score cheap political points with such a serious subject is unforgivable. 
St Owens Cross

Fibre woes
NINE months’ ago we signed an agreement with BT for their new Fibre to Property (FTP) broadband. 
This has involved the allocation of five contracts, four of which have been cancelled unilaterally by BT, a dozen site visits by BT Open Reach and dozens of telephone calls. 
We were told that the new FTP could go underground, like our existing phone and broadband. 
It became apparent that this was causing too many problems, so we agreed to the installation of three overhead poles on our land. These were delivered and erected by two very efficient men. Three days later, another four men and three more poles turned up to do the same job. 
In the meantime, two of our neighbours signed up for FTP. The FTP manifold had been fitted to a nearby pole. 
Open Reach fitted both orders to the wrong houses, not even bothering to knock upon the doors of the correct houses.
One of the neighbours, who had not ordered the service, decided to take it. Three houses were thus wired up to the manifold and all have a working service. After many weeks the FTP was connected to our property, via the same manifold. 
Two more men then came (without the ladder they needed, which we lent them) and installed the ‘little grey box’ on the external wall of our house. 
BT had repeatedly told us that, once this was done, an engineer would carry out the final connection to an internal socket.
We waited and waited, making telephone calls every few days. Open Reach, with whom we are not allowed to communicate, repeatedly told the BT ‘Customer Care’ unit that external work still needed doing to the manifold. They could not, or would not, state what this was. 
A BT engineer came to our neighbours. He kindly checked that our wires went to the same manifold that was delivering a signal and tested our little grey box, confirming that it was receiving a signal. It was. I then sent photographs by e-mail to our BT representative. She passed these on to Open Reach with the works telephone number of the BT engineer.
Computer still said ‘no’ and continues to do so. Apparently, the system is ‘robotic’, although I have another word for it.
I now sit two feet away from the box which BT will not connect, because their robot tells them external work still needs to be done when it does not.
One would think that ‘a man in a van with a screwdriver’ could be despatched, but no. The computer cannot cope with this.
Something is showing as being ‘open’, but nobody can tell us what. In  the meantime, our complaint has been ‘escalated’, whatever that means, our neighbours are enjoying their fibre service and the ‘superfast information highway’ is trapped in its little box. 
The nightmare continues.

Many thanks
I HAVE recently received some excellent medical care at the Hereford County Hospital, and wish to pay a tribute to them. 
When I arrived at the hospital on October 11, 2016, I thought that it was just for a few days. In practice, I stayed for over a month. 
During my stay, I experienced extreme professionalism, and never-ending kindness at all times. 
I am now looking forward to starting my new life at past 80 years of age. 
We are exceptionally lucky to have such a wonderful hospital in Herefordshire and I am most grateful.

Excellent staff
HAVING been a patient for the past year at the County Hospital in Hereford, now four operations, three tests (TWOC) and another test to come, I have nothing but praise for all the staff from the Consultant Mr Richard Christian Nayor, to his team, the nurses and not forgetting the cleaning staff. 
Now for the downside – long delays in treatments due to no beds available, my time spent in a “tin hut” built in 1916, no hot water or central heating, heating by electric radiators only. 
This modern hospital is totally inadequate for a growing county and surrounding areas, built by PFI, and we the tax payers are still paying through the nose. 
Car parking charges! Enough said. 
As our last PM, Mr Cameron said in his pre-election speech “the health service is safe in my hands”. What hands, as he has now deserted the ship?
Please do not say there is no money for the NHS when the Government wastes money on international aid to countries that have space programmes or corrupt leaders etc. 
There is plenty of money but it is wasted. Is the Government continuing to sell off parts to private companies or sell the lot and we “Joe Public” pay insurance; I hope not.
As all the problems are due to central government cut-backs throughout the social and care programmes, I am afraid my vote for my local MP Jesse Norman will not be forthcoming if things do not change.

A sad loss
AFTER 34 years’ commitment to empowering women and children, especially those affected by domestic abuse, Jan Frances, CEO of West Mercia Women’s Aid is leaving the charity. 
We the ex-trustees and volunteers of WMWA want to take the opportunity to thank Jan for her dedication and the tireless work she has done both locally and nationally. 
Her loss to WMWA is incalculable, and the vital role she has played will be sorely missed.
A founder member of Hereford Women’s Aid, Jan has been highly influential in shaping the Women’s Aid movement, and as chair of the national Women’s Aid Board for four years she was able to influence and promote a strong national response to domestic abuse. 
Those of us who have worked with Jan have greatly gained from experiencing a leadership based on feminist principles and open democracy.
In the present climate of funding cuts, those of us committed to women’s issues hope that these important principles continue to shape the ongoing work of WMWA. 
In this we wish the new CEO every success. 
And we put the present board of trustees on notice of our expectation that the governance of WMWA continues to reflect Jan’s integrity and philosophy.
On behalf of ex trustees and volunteers.

No access
GWYN James Price (Hereford Times Letters) sounds like another nimby from the west side of the city with his proposal for a bridge at Rotherwas to Hampton Park Road. If he got out a bit he would find access to the bridge for heavy goods vehicles is not possible except through housing estates and no way to connect to Ledbury Road as Eign Road is practically a one-way street with parked cars. 
Another road to nowhere.

Wrong dog...
SADLY, the High Town bull is not the only four-legged friend that is an incorrect model.
On the banks of the Wye, opposite the cathedral, the famous dog Dan jumped in the river when out for a walk with his owner George Sinclair and Edward Elgar.
Dan is immortalised in Enigma Variations.
But the wooden dog on the river bank is the wrong breed.
Dan was a Victorian bulldog – now extinct. Not at all like the dog on the river bank.
In spite of pleas to Herefordshire Council, he remains.
If only someone bothered to do a little research.

... and bull
I AM in complete agreement with John Smith’s letter - Hereford cattle are reddish brown with creamy white faces. 
This statue does not represent a Hereford bull at all.
You might just as well erect a statue of a Zulu warrior in a kilt and spear and call him ‘Tam O’Shanter’ but he will never be a Scot.
It is a load of old bull as far as I can tell.