Letters: If GPs are paid more, they will work fewer hours, making it even harder to see one

·9 min read
Patients are still finding it difficult to book an appointment with a GP - Anthony Devlin/PA
Patients are still finding it difficult to book an appointment with a GP - Anthony Devlin/PA

SIR – I have owned several practices during my career and employed many associates in my 44 years as a dental practitioner.

With some certainty, I can assure you that an increase in pay to doctors would simply result in them reducing the number of hours they must work in order to maintain their current high income levels.

This would result in a further deterioration in the currently inadequate level of manpower.

Dr John Derbyshire
Farnley Tyas, West Yorkshire

SIR – I wonder whether the figure of £76,000 for GPs’ average pay takes account of the fact that many, particularly women, work part time. Given that so many do, it rather suggests they are happy with their remuneration and that the threat of a strike is unnecessary.

As a first-world country we should be training all the medical professionals that we require and not relying on imports to make up any shortfall. The training should be free, and in return the doctor should work an agreed number of years full time for the NHS or whatever system replaces it.

C M Watkins
Brentwood, Essex

Privy Council crush

SIR – Surely Christopher Pincher, the disgraced deputy chief whip (report, July 1), should be removed from the Privy Council. He is lucky to be on it. Ministers outside the Cabinet, and ordinary backbenchers, have only been appointed to it in recent years.

Boris Johnson seems especially keen on this particular form of patronage, which passes largely unnoticed by those monitoring political corruption.

At the Queen’s accession the Privy Council had some 200 members, including important Commonwealth dignitaries; the total today is over 700. A start could be made in reducing it by weeding out those who have brought discredit on themselves.

Lord Lexden
London SW1

Putin facing justice

SIR – Is it not astonishing that Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, who has been very reticent in his support of Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions, should now be suggesting that they might be lifted if Vladimir Putin “accepts that his plans will not succeed”?

Surely sanctions should not be lifted until Mr Putin is despatched to the Hague and Russia agrees to significant compensation for Ukraine.

Colin Hamilton
Chichester, West Sussex

SIR – General Lord Dannatt and Tobias Ellwood MP are wrong to overstate the risk of a major conventional war in Europe (report, June 20). A significant proportion of the Russian army has struggled to achieve its limited objectives in Ukraine, while also suffering huge and unsustainable losses. It has badly maintained equipment, ineffective logistics and inadequate leadership.

It is therefore difficult to see how it could pose a credible threat to the combined military strength of 30 Nato members, which under Article 5 ensures collective defence.

It is Russia’s highly capable and modernised nuclear forces that should be the primary concern, not its army.

Rear Admiral Philip Mathias (retd)
Director of Nuclear Policy, 2005-08
Southsea, Hampshire

McClarity

SIR – In 2000, after a Quebec vote to separate from Canada was narrowly defeated, the federal government passed the Clarity Act. The purpose of the Act was twofold: it legally obliged the separatist party to pose a clear, unambiguous question for the electorate and it gave the Canadian House of Commons the power to determine whether or not a clear majority had expressed itself following any referendum.

Would it not be in the Union’s interest, including Scotland’s, to formulate a Clarity Act so any future attempts to break up the Union are made under predetermined and reasonable rules?

Nigel Costeloe
Gullane, East Lothian

SIR – Many will agree with Keith Williamson (Letters, June 30) that the whole of the United Kingdom should have a vote in any referendum on independence for Scotland.

But what would happen if the Scottish people themselves voted to remain in the UK but the majority of people in Northern Ireland, Wales and England voted for them to be granted independence? Would the UK Government request Scotland’s resignation from the UK?

Mike Gilbert
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

BA refund? Not a bean

SIR – Louise Stoupe (Letters, July 1) is still waiting for a refund from BA after “countless hours on the telephone”. BA informed us two months ago, with no explanation, that our flight to Malta in October had been altered to a day earlier. As the hotel we had booked could not accommodate us, we decided to cancel.

I was originally informed that £421 of the cost of my booking of £483 would be refunded. Two months later and I am still waiting.

Any attempt to contact BA online or by telephone is futile.

Jenny Austen
Great Dunmow, Essex

City colony

SIR – Robert Tombs’s lament (Comment, June 30) for Cambridge University’s continuing capitulation to woke ideology is timely, if depressing. The abolition of the nickname “The Colony” for the outlying Clare College building in Chesterton Lane should surely be followed by the suppression of a still more oppressive toponym in the neighbouring county.

The name of the city of Lincoln derives from Roman Lindum Colonia. How long can sensitive Cambridge undergraduates endure this notorious reminder of the city’s origin? That the Romano-Britons were evidently proud of the appellation makes the matter worse.

Nikolai Tolstoy
Southmoor, Berkshire

How Ravilious saw beauty in industrial objects

Abstract beauty: Ship’s Screw on a Railway Truck, 1940, by the war artist Eric Ravilious - Bridgeman Images
Abstract beauty: Ship’s Screw on a Railway Truck, 1940, by the war artist Eric Ravilious - Bridgeman Images

SIR – You are right to mention the ability of the artist Eric Ravilious (1903-42) to find beauty in industrial objects, such as the ship’s screw on a flat railway truck (Leading Article, July 1). Ravilious saw it when he was posted to Chatham Dockyard in February 1940 as a war artist for the Admiralty.

The burnished propeller standing out against the snow looks like an abstract sculpture, but Ravilious makes it both part of the landscape and of the human activity of war. He went on to do the same thing in 1941 with a 9.2in naval gun firing on the chalk slopes at Dover, and a Supermarine Walrus (a seaplane “with a strong personality like a duck”) sitting on the sea at Dundee.

Elizabeth Johnson
London SW5

Needlessly felled

SIR – I have been a building surveyor for more than 40 years. When in practice, I advised clients about subsidence insurance claims.

I have been interested by the report (June 30) on the decision to fell an ancient oak tree in Bretton, near Peterborough, which was said to be 600 years old. This decision had apparently been taken on the advice of an insurance company, which said that the tree roots were causing damage – presumably by subsidence – to a relatively modern house.

The ground around a tree of this age would have established a state of relative stability – with respect to its effect on the moisture level and associated shrinkage of the subsoil – many years ago. While the ground moisture level would have reduced in the years before the tree reached maturity, this reduction should have stagnated hundreds of years ago.

If the subsoil is shrinkable clay, the removal of such an old and established tree would be to cause the subsoil to rehydrate, thus increasing in volume. The effect of this on the ground – and therefore the house and its foundations – will be that they suffer “heave”, which is when the building is lifted up by the swelling of the subsoil as it rehydrates.

David Simmonds
Midsomer Norton, Somerset

Less polluting houses

SIR – Following your report on housebuilding (“Natural England accused of compounding housing crisis”, June, 27), I would like to reassure you that Natural England’s advice to a number of local authorities on “nutrient neutrality” will enable new homes to be built without adding to the water pollution that is already damaging some of our most vulnerable wildlife sites.

This advice is part of our statutory duty to assist government – national and local – in meeting its various legal commitments to the environment.

We are working with government on a range of solutions to reduce pollution at source. With our technical and practical support, planning permission is being granted for sustainable new homes.

Tony Juniper
Chair of Natural England
London SW1

Holiday heroism

SIR – Looking through some old photographs, my wife showed me one of her sitting on a motorcycle with a sidecar.

She said many childhood holidays (Letters, June 30) were spent in west Wales. This involved leaving home in Orpington at 4am, her father – a Dunkirk veteran – driving, she on pillion, and her mother and younger brother in the sidecar, with their luggage strapped on to its rear. These were pre-Severn bridge and motorway times. They were tough in those days.

Richard Acland
Beachley, Gloucestershire

SIR – In the 1950s we invariably broke our annual trip from London to Cornwall at a friend’s house in Taunton. The evening meal, provided by our friend, who had nursed me as a baby in South Africa, was always chicken cooked in her hay box.

Neil G M Hall
Marlborough, Wiltshire

Sporting Wimbledon

SIR – I wonder how many others were struck by the absence of antics from John Isner in defeating Andy Murray on centre court (report, June 30).

There were no histrionics or ugly snarling gamesmanship. Isner was calm, quietly going about his business while faced by an overwhelmingly partisan crowd, and stunningly modest and generous when interviewed after his gigantic performance. With that impressively old-fashioned approach, I hope he wins the tournament.

Andrew Shouler
Grays, Essex

SIR – What has happened to sportsmanship? Of course we all wanted Andy Murray to beat John Isner, but some of the rowdy element in the crowd were not real tennis fans and were cheering Isner’s mistakes.

Hilda Ball
Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire

SIR – To improve enjoyment of the television coverage of Wimbledon I can recommend pressing the mute button on the remote (Letters, June 30) and tuning in to Radio 3.

Helen Rand
Thurso, Caithness

SIR – Will someone please buy Rafael Nadal some larger shorts – he drives me mad, always “adjusting” himself.

Maggie Hodd
London W6

SIR – I’m amazed and delighted that in this gender-neutral age, Wimbledon still refers to ball boys and ball girls.

Neil Meaden
Alderbury, Wiltshire

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