Letters to the editor – February 18, 2022

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Stamps are changing

Sir,

Your readers will have seen that our ‘every day’ stamps are changing.

We are adding unique barcodes to stamps to pave the way for innovative services for our customers and to enhance the security of the postal service.

We are encouraging customers to find and use up any non-barcoded stamps before January 31, 2023. If customers are unable to use them up by then, we will exchange them for barcoded stamps completely free of charge.

Our ‘Swap Out’ scheme will open on March, 31 2022. Customers will be able to print out a form from our website, call our Customer Experience team to ask for one or pick one up from their local delivery office’s customer service point.

More details about our Swap Out scheme will be announced soon, but in the meantime please be assured that all existing stamps remain valid for postage in the usual way.

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer, Royal Mail

Relying on burned-out staff

Sir,

For the second week in a row the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s Winter Flow Project has recorded one in 11 patients delayed by 12 hours or more in an emergency department from time of arrival.

The extent of harm coming to patients is alarming and distressing. The situation in emergency departments continues to be a step-change worse than previous years and is set to derail any plans to recover elective care. Patients admitted as emergencies will displace planned elective admissions.

Elective care is not isolated from urgent and emergency care; this is a critical distinction that must be carefully incorporated into any recovery plan. Any credible recovery plan must detail the workforce required.

Once again it is up to staff, who are burned out, overwhelmed and facing moral injury, to tackle the crisis and do their best to keep patients safe and minimise harm.

It is crucial that system leaders work together and take a whole-system approach and work inter-departmentally and cross-speciality to do their best to promote flow, minimise patient harm and ensure timely discharge of patients.

However, existing staff who are already struggling can only do so much.

Without an updated, meaningful recovery plan, urgent and emergency care recovery is not viable and ambulance handover delays and long waiting times in emergency departments will only increase.

It is patients in the community and patients attending emergency departments who will suffer.

Dr Adrian Boyle, vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine

Looking for inspirational children

Sir,

As a long time ambassador for WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children, I would like to appeal to your readers to get in nominations quickly for this year’s WellChild Awards.

The deadline for nominations has recently been extended until February 27 so please don’t delay if you know a brave and special young person in your area and nominate them for the 2022 WellChild Awards.

At the WellChild Awards 2022, in association with GSK, we will be paying a public tribute to some of the UK’s very special children, young people and caring professionals.

We are looking for inspirational children and young people who have defied the odds in the face of serious illness and the selfless nurses, doctors, brothers, sisters and friends who help care for them.

The awards are a truly magical experience for the winners who have an evening they will never forget.

I have seen for myself the wonderful boost they bring to the winners and nominees, many of whom are living with serious illnesses. In this of all years that’s something they really need.

Nominations for the 2022 WellChild Awards are open now so I would like to appeal to your readers to please get yours in before the closing date on Sunday February 27. Get the details of how to nominate now on the www.wellchild.org.uk/awards webpage.

The winners will be invited along with their nominator to attend the WellChild Awards ceremony in 2022.

Gaby Roslin, WellChild ambassador

The impact of Brexit

Sir,

It was not unexpected to note Jacob Rees-Mogg pontificating that there is little evidence that Brexit has damaged UK trade. The delusions of the government’s new Brexit opportunities minister know no bounds and fly in the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Last week, Westminster’s Public Accounts Committee said trade had been ‘suppressed’ since the UK cut formal trade ties in January 2021, due a combination of Brexit, Covid and global economic problems.

The MPs said it was not possible to separate out the precise impact of each factor, but it was ‘clear’ that Brexit had had an impact, with businesses experiencing additional paperwork and border checks when exporting products to EU countries.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which comes up with economic forecasts for the government, said at the time of the Budget in October that both imports and exports with the EU had been hit by Brexit and that both were on track to end up 15 per cent lower as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

It pointed to research from the Centre for European Reform, which concluded that in October 2021 the UK’s trade in goods with the EU had been 15.7 per cent, or £12.6bn lower, than it would have been without Brexit.

Mr Rees-Mogg may continue to live in a fantasy world where all in the garden is rosy, but in the real world British businesses are being forced to face up to the harsh realities of Brexit.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh