I WAS struck on a recent visit to Glasgow by the very visible increase in rough sleeping, as referenced in your story about the rise in use of a winter shelter in the city (Shelter used 500 times over festive period, The National, January 6).

It would be easy to condemn Glasgow City Council for its action in closing the squalid hostels previously used by people with nowhere else to go while not providing other options, but I imagine this is no easy task – even without taking into account the huge budget cuts our local authorities are facing.

While most people express concern about the plight of homeless people, few would be happy for a hostel to be opened in their own area. Surely the answer is for small units or supported flats within thriving communities?

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It would be an interesting exercise to collate planning applications for such facilities throughout Scotland, along with objections received from the likes of community councils and local residents.

If no-one is willing to have these units in their back yard, we will continue to see sleeping bags in doorways.
Joan Brown
Edinburgh

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Labour’s stance on bed-blocking is simply idiotic

IS Anas Sarwar even stupider than Kezia Dugdale? It would be hard to describe how absolutely appalled I am by the latest behaviour of Scottish Labour (Hundreds die waiting for hospital discharge, The National, January 5). Are there no depths to which they will not sink?

And do they actually believe they are talking to a nation of idiots? They are shouting that, over the last 18 months, apparently every month an average of about 38 very ill people who were waiting to leave our hospitals died before they were discharged. I’m sure that the same or worse was the case in the previous 18 months. And the 18 months before that and so on. Sadly, the Labour Party are trying to make some political capital out of this.

Apart from conflating the bed-blocking situation with the case of terminally ill people, there is a much more serious issue here.

Do Anas Sarwar and the Labour Party understand what they are saying? They are actually suggesting that these people would have survived had they been discharged from hospital. Can I repeat that? They are suggesting that very ill people died because they still were in our hospitals. That being in our hospitals contributed to their deaths. What an insult to our hard-working hospitals. And what an insult to our intelligence. Is it any wonder that Tories are flying ahead of Labour in Scotland?
Dave McEwan Hill
Sandbank, Argyll

IT is, of course, politically convenient for Scottish Labour to take a parochial view of the issue of delayed hospital discharges and associated deaths, and while parochialism may well be convenient on further examination such a stance is revealed as a myopic view.

Looking at NHS England, the state of delayed discharge has increased among all but three regions ranging from 25 per cent to a eye-watering circa 65 per cent. NHS Scotland outperforms NHS England, having achieved a reduction over the period 2012 through August 2015 of circa five per cent (www.parliament.uk/commons-library: Delayed transfers of care in the NHS Number 7415, 2 December 2015).

Mortality rates make great headlines for the opposition, but while any death is regrettable there is a need to look at the figures in context.

While 70.7 per cent of delayed bed days in the six months up to September 2015 were experienced by patients aged 75-plus, when compared to life expectancy rates here in Scotland (77.1 years for males and 81.1 years for females) but with considerable variation between areas (excluding the Glasgow effect), the mortality rates in context do not buck any trends, instead simply indicate that folk that may well have died at home did so in hospital.

I’d aver no matter the slings and arrows of a myopic opposition, our devolved NHS is outperforming NHS England and despite ongoing challenges should be cause for celebration, not derision.
Piers Doughty-Brown
Glasgow


I FIND the reported concerns by Anas Sarwar on this subject baffling. He is quoted as saying that delayed discharge can be seriously dangerous for the patients concerned. Surely a more relevant question would be “why are they dying?”

They may have been wrongly pronounced fit for discharge – medical blunder, nothing to do with lack of aftercare services. Their condition may have worsened , in which case one would like to think that hospital was the best place for them.

The only scenario where their death is directly related to delayed discharge is if they die of a disease contracted in hospital during the delay. That would be very unfortunate for the individual but, rather than focusing on bed-blocking, would it not be more productive to ask why and how the infection occurred and how many other “non-discharge ready” patients are affected?
Jim Palmer
East Kilbride

I EXPECT a lot of readers would have taken Elspeth Hobson’s letter with a smile and a pinch of salt and dismissed it as impossible, but wait a minute (Scotland’s a ride away from being number one, Letters, January 6).

Just think a bit more about it. First of all put “Swiss Alpine slide” on YouTube and savour the thrill of a toboggan ride down an Alpine mountainside . I expect when this attraction was first mooted the good burghers of Kandersteg said more or less what most folk here will be saying about Elspeth’s suggestion, but they now appear to have an attraction which seems to feature on “bucket lists” of many tourists.

So, what about the “Forth Bridge Funicular”? Is it feasible? If it is really a possibility, why not do it and provide tourists with a spectacular experience? My grandson has just returned from a holiday in Australia where one of the highlights was a walk over the height of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so why not a ride over our wonder? If it comes to fruition, I think Elspeth and I should get the first go!

Jim Gibson Selkirk IN the quick crossword of The National on Thursday, January 5, there was a three-letter word,the clue being “increase”. After wrestling with every definition known to man, I gave up.

Imagine my consternation when on checking answers in this morning’s National, I discovered the answer was “eke”. In England they play a popular game called cricket and I fear our compiler is on a very wet wicket with this one.
Terry Keegans
Beith