Letters to the editor – February 12, 2021

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‘Shocking neglect’ of Argyll

Sir,

The Scottish Government’s long-awaited infrastructure investment plan is a big disappointment for Argyll and Bute.

The Rest and be Thankful only gets one small mention – it is to be ‘enhanced’, but no details and no cash allocated. In contrast, roads in other parts of Scotland have detailed works planned and money set aside to pay for them. After 14 years of failed attempts at a solution and six months after a major landslide, Argyll deserves better than a vague election promise to ‘enhance’ the road.

The only new ferries mentioned are two 100-metre ferries. These are the same two ferries that were promised in the 2015 infrastructure plan, but still lie in a yard, years late and well over budget. Neither of these ferries is for Argyll and Bute. All we get is vague promises of a ‘long term plan and investment programme’.

This so-called plan is a shocking neglect of Argyll and Bute.

Councillor Alan Reid, Cowal ward

Cancer support remains

Sir,

The start of 2021 is proving to be an acutely challenging time for people with cancer, the NHS and for cancer care. Indeed, it’s clear that this is the most worrying time in recent history to get a cancer diagnosis.

At Macmillan, people are calling our support line every day to tell us about the heightened anxiety, loneliness and distress that they are feeling.

On our support line – open seven days a week on 0808 808 00 00 – specially trained nurses, counsellors and financial support advisors are available to help anyone affected by, or worried about, cancer. They can provide comprehensive information and advice, as well as emotional support, to help people with cancer cope with the additional strain of the coronavirus pandemic.

We know doctors and nurses are working in unspeakably difficult conditions and are having to make tough decisions every day. Healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to keep cancer care on track, but we also know that some treatment – operations, for example – are being cancelled or postponed because essential services such as ITU are full of seriously ill people with Covid-19.

What is absolutely vital is that if there are changes to treatment plans, these must involve the person living with cancer and be communicated clearly.

Although some changes may be needed for treatment plans, this is not the case everywhere or for all treatments or tests. Healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to make hospitals a safe environment so it’s really important that people with cancer who have been invited for tests or treatment do attend.

GPs are open if you are worried about possible cancer symptoms, and screening and other vital tests have resumed in a Covid-safe way. The NHS is still here for you.

As well as our support line, comprehensive cancer information and support is also available on www.macmillan.org.uk and our online community is there to provide invaluable emotional and peer support.

Gordon McLean, strategic partnership manager in Scotland for Macmillan Cancer Support

An inclusive future for disabled people

Sir,

Inclusion Scotland, the leading Scottish disabled people’s organisation, believes that planning for the post Covid-19 Scotland must be about building towards a more inclusive future for disabled people, not back to an old ‘normal’ that excluded a lot of us.

As we launch our manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, disabled people have told us about the problems they face daily, both before and as a result of Covid-19, and what needs to change.

Before Covid-19, disabled people were already some of the most marginalised and excluded in society.

We were more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed or earn less than non-disabled people, and less likely to leave school with qualifications, because of the barriers and exclusion we face in our day-to-day lives.

The Covid-19 crisis and responses to it highlighted this, aggravating existing inequalities and generating new ones, and putting the human rights of disabled people at further risk.

Going back to the way things were before is not the answer. We don’t want to go back. We want to go forward to a more inclusive future.

The manifesto – Rights and Renewal – sets out what disabled people told Inclusion Scotland are the most important issues they face and what needs to be done to make a post-pandemic Scotland a better place for disabled people. It has five key asks:

  • Incorporate the UN Convention on Rights of Disabled People into Scots law to fully promote, protect and realise our human rights.
  • Recognise social care support as a fundamental basic right with the same criteria wherever you live.
  • Ensure equal access to education and jobs for disabled people, particularly disabled young people.
  • Use Scottish Social Security powers to help reduce the number of disabled people living in poverty.
  • Involve us, the experts in our own lives, in making post Covid-19 Scotland better for disabled people.

I call on all political parties fighting the Scottish Parliament elections and their candidates to pledge their support for disabled people’s Five Asks.

Dr Sally Witcher, Inclusion Scotland chief executive officer

Point of no return

Sir,

Our dilapidated roads continue to be raised as an issue by many constituents.

While I understand that our roads department is struggling due to local authority budgets being cut, much more still needs to be done.

It has been said to me time and time again that we are fast approaching the point of no return and when it comes to our roads and that neglecting day-to-day maintenance will end up costing us more in the long run.

Councillor Alastair Redman – Kintyre and Islands ward