WHAT the dickens has happened to our local NHS?

My daughter is expecting her first baby in July. She has had to travel to Huddersfield Royal, Halifax General and to Leeds for various tests and checks. Fortunately she has a car!

My son has been diagnosed with cancer. He has had to travel to Halifax, Bradford and Manchester as well as visiting Huddersfield Royal.

All this before his treatment has even begun! Later he will have to be an in-patient in Bradford. The whole family will have to make a regular 30-40 mile round trip each day to visit him.

Huddersfield has a population of 146,000 people but we seemingly do not warrant essential health services in our own town.

Now, I hear, St Luke’s is about to be closed so those suffering from dementia, as my late mother did, will have to travel elsewhere.

I assume that these services have been removed from one of the largest towns in the UK on the basis of ‘rationalisation’ or for ‘greater efficiency’. It doesn’t feel that way to my children or to me.

Our Prime Minister boasts about the extra spending on the NHS he has sanctioned in the last 13 years.

He doesn’t mention the vastly increased costs forced upon patients and their families simply to access maternity, cancer or dementia treatments.

What is wrong with local services for local people?

Perhaps local candidates in the forthcoming general election would like to reply to the Examiner telling us how they would reverse the depletion of NHS provision in Huddersfield.

Don’t hold you breath – you may end up having to travel a fair distance for resuscitation!

(Name and address supplied)

Litterally great

WELL done Penni (Garg) on the Round Wood litter pick on Easter weekend. What a difference it made! Perhaps it could be a biannual event.

G and W Akroyd


Crime and crime again

TWO readers, R J Bray (April 8 ) and Richard Bulloch (March 31) take issue with my case about how irresponsible it is to whip up the fear of crime by claiming how much worse things have got compared with the past.

Mr Bray told us that he does not have a rose-tinted view of the past.

However, in his letter of March 19 he said: “The nation is in a far worse state than it has been in the last 50 years.”

My response to that was my account of what the Tories said at their 1958 conference.

Also in his April 8 letter, he asks how many murders were committed weekly 50 years ago, and said my letter was missing the crime figures of yesteryear compared to today’s.

Well just a minute. Where are the figures in Mr Bray’s letters? If he is going to make the case that things are so much worse, it’s his job to provide exactly those sorts of statistics.

We are all entitled to our opinions and it is mine that they should be backed up by evidence.

That takes me on to Mr Bulloch Letters, March 31)

He accused the government of spin in cutting the crime figures, and me of falling for that spin. I think he’s wrong.

Crime figures depend on two things. There’s what you class as a crime, and there’s how you record them.

These were the subject of a report done for the Tories in 1991. It found that there was a ‘postcode lottery’, with what was treated as a crime being different from one police force to another. Also the same offences were treated as different crimes in different areas. The report said the system should be made more consistent.

The Tories did nothing. They just sat on the report. The problem was that making these changes would bump recorded crime figures up. They were neither brave nor honest enough to take the ‘hit’ that would have involved.

Labour changed the system from April 1998. Look at what happened.

Until then, if a thief stole a credit card and bought 10 things with it, that was counted as one crime. From then on it was 10. Quite right, too.

Also until then, minor criminal damage (£20 and under ) didn’t count as a crime. Labour said that was wrong. It did something about it. It was now a crime.

Also until then, drug possession wasn’t included in the figures. Labour changed that, too.

What was the result? Overall recorded crime went up, of course, by 14%. ‘Violence against the person’ shot up by 118%.

Did this mean that under Labour twice as many folk were being attacked? No. But people who’d been attacked and ignored under the Tories now had it accepted that they’d been the victim of a crime. So, Mr Bulloch, the changes Labour brought in actually meant more crimes are recorded, not fewer.

Labour still had concerns about how police forces recorded crime. So, in 2002 it brought in the National Crime Recording Standard.

This made the system more consistent.

It also put up the recorded crime figures, by another 10%.

I remember the government making a strong appeal for all sides to behave responsibly about these rises in recorded crime.

This is where the real ‘spin’ has come in. The Tories and their newspaper allies saw this as an opportunity to whip up hysteria, scaremongering that makes sensible national debate very difficult.

I must suggest to Mr Bulloch that if anyone’s fallen for spin, it’s him, not me.

And those who suffer most are the elderly whose lives are blighted by the fear of crime, not crime itself.

That’s why it’s irresponsible to whip up those fears and then try to gain political advantage from them.

Mr R A Vant


Battling Buckstones

Arthur Quarmby’s letter “'All winter long” (Letters April 13) on the remarkable winter we’ve just had, where snow has lain over the tops continually for 117 days was interesting.

Like Arthur, I’ve also been watching the last pockets of snow slowly surrender to the inevitable in the spring sunshine.

The nature of compacted snow accumulations in the north facing hollows and gullies seemed almost glacial.

As a young adventurer in the April of 1988 I walked the Pennine Way, dogged by bitterly cold, snow driven conditions.

I recall battling over Buckstones in a whiteout, the huge snowdrifts against the gables of the Tan Hill Inn and the waist deep snow over Cross Fell.

We all remember weather extremes, but in recent years our winters have been noteworthy only for their lack of cold or snowy conditions, similarly our soggy summers tend to be nothing to write home about... but I’ve got my paddling pool and flip flops ready just in case.

Uncle Grumpy


Art project for all

AS a TV presenter and naturalist, my passion is to encourage kids to explore the natural world.

One great way of doing this is for teachers to sign up their class for the Young Pavement Artists’ Competition, which has the theme ‘Strength in Nature’.

Not only will this teach youngsters about the world around them but the competition is an inclusive one that puts kids on a level playing field – disabilities don’t matter when it comes to art.

So if you’re a teacher, student or parent please support the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s competition and suggest your school gets involved.

The money you raise will help the 70,000 babies, children and adults with muscle disease in the UK. Visit www.muscular-dystrophy.org/pavementart

Steve Backshall


All bets off

WITH the election around the corner I think the bookies should not be taking bets in who will win but they should be taking bets on how many pre-election promises will be broken.

When you think deeply about it, if parties kept up the good work we would never have a change of government.

Colin Vause