OUR NHS now faces the most far-reaching, disruptive and damaging changes in its history.

If this was not enough, it is being forced to cope with large cuts in funding and staff reductions which some estimate in the region of 50,000. We are not just talking about back-room employees here, but doctors, nurses and midwives too.

It is little wonder that the Royal College of Nursing concluded months ago that the scale and speed of the Coalition’s reforms pose a significant risk to the future of the NHS.

Just as worrying as these proposals, however, is the manner in which they are being pushed through Parliament. This Coalition has no mandate to undermine the founding principles of the NHS. Indeed, Prime Minister David Cameron promised time and time again that there would be ‘no more pointless and disruptive re-organisations.’ More than this, he assured us that change would be ‘…driven by the wishes and needs of NHS professionals and patients.’

We know how opposed to many of these reforms our surgeons, doctors and nurses are. The views of their professional bodies have been splashed across these pages on numerous occasions.

The people for whom the NHS exists have not been consulted about their ‘wishes and needs’ either.

A market driven health care system will put hospitals in competition with large, profit-making companies and some of its key departments could face closure because their services will be undercut.

Paying customers will queue-jump while the rest of us will have to wait. GPs will be obliged to weigh your medical need against the cost of your treatment and then justify Coalition funding cuts.

If these reforms worry you, then you must do something now. Sign the NHS Support Federation petition: http://www.nhscampaign.org/white-paper-comment/e-petition.html Write to your MP and to the Health Secretary, lansleya@parliament.uk. Grasp any legal means available to register your views.

Be very sure, unless he is forced do to, Mr Cameron and his Coalition will pay very little attention to your ‘wishes and needs.’

Barry Nottage


Patient costs and GPs

AS PART of their NHS reforms, the Coalition appears to be designing payment schemes which reward GPs for denying, or delaying, treatment to patients.

According to the chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, a proportion of doctors’ salaries will be paid as a quality premium. GPs will forfeit pay if they are not judged to be spending funds effectively.

This could encourage doctors to ration treatment to qualify for payment.

Dr Laurence Buckman from he BMA concludes that such schemes would be “disgracefully unethical” because they could result in doctors lining their own pockets at the cost of patient care.

Cameron and Co would appear to know the cost of everything. However, they know the value of nothing.

R H Brisbourne


Israel and the Holocaust

IF Bruce Jackson intends setting himself up as an apologist for the state of Israel he should at least get his facts right (Mailbag, March 1).

Not one of his assertions on the origins of Israel are correct. The League of Nations did not recognise a Jewish homeland in 1920. What they did do was ratify the British mandate and with it the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

The Balfour Declaration was not a legal document but a secret promise by British ministers to the leaders of Zionism to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, (note: ‘homeland’ not ‘state’).

It was not ratified by the British Parliament, let alone the inhabitants of Palestine, 90% of whom were Arabs. Indeed, the League of Nations, by Mandate Article 22 of its covenant in 1922, tacitly recognised the right of the Palestinians to self determination.

Winston Churchill did not give part of this Jewish homeland to Jordan. Jordan did not exist in 1920. Churchill’s White Paper set the river Jordan as the boundary for implementing the Balfour Declaration. Trans Jordan was also a British mandated, ie occupied, territory like Palestine.

The Balfour Declaration promised to facilitate the immigration of Jews so they could become the majority and establish their homeland despite the fact that the Palestinians had lived in the land for generations.

Even if one does not accept that Palestinians are descendents of the original Philistines going back 3,000 years, then they have been there at least since the Arab invasion. That is almost as long as the English have been in England.

To cite precedence as a reason for the Jews returning there is as ludicrous as saying that England should be returned to the Welsh.

When the United Nations created the state of Israel by Resolution 181 in 1947 it did not include the West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank was not seized by Arab armies. Indeed, the opposite was the case. The Israelis under Plan Dalet set out to pre-empt any Arab resistance by seizing as much territory as possible, including northern Galilee, the area west of Jerusalem and other chunks of land which UN resolution 181 had allocated to the Palestinians.

Far from ‘recapturing’ this land in the Six Day War, the Israelis occupied it and have remained in illegal occupation of it ever since, building settlements and the so-called Peace Wall on Palestinian land in defiance of international law.

Israel was founded in bloodshed. The terrorist groups the Irgun and the Stern Gang killed thousands of Palestinians and expelled hundreds of thousands more. It has created a cycle of violence which has now embroiled the whole world.

To invoke the memory of the victims of the holocaust in justification of the state of Israel is perverse and sickening. Holocaust Remembrance Day is about ensuring that the horrific persecution faced by the Jews does not happen again, anywhere, to anyone. That includes the Palestinians.

Alan Brooke


Collectively Kirkheaton

WE are writing to correct an impression that might have been given by your article (Village fights back after Gun Tragedy, February 25).

We wish to point out that our group, Yetton Together, was in no way formed in reaction to the tragic events of December 28.

We were formed following a village meeting last July which 70 people attended, itself organised by the Kirkheaton Community Network which has been going for several years.

We have already received backing from Awards for All (National Lottery) and Kirkburton Parish Council and are working with Rural Action Yorkshire on a broad agenda of community concerns.

People have an opportunity to raise any issues, concerns or hopes at the consultation events, details of which can be found on our website – www.kirkheatonnetwork.org.uk

Richard Steel

Yetton Together Steering Committee

A great hospital

IN an age when it seems the norm is to find fault and complain, I am writing to praise the NHS.

I recently spent some time in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in wards 9 and 15.

I received excellent nursing, kindness, courtesy and patience. Nothing was too much for Sister and her staff. As I am 86 years old I needed attention and received it with dignity and care.

Thank you girls, you are stars – and not forgetting the doctors and staff in A and E.

P M Davies


Go on, swap homes

IN answer to Mr George Senior (Letters February 26), Clr Andrew Cooper is against the proposal. Spring Grove, where the Tesco store is to be built, is in his ward.

We in Springwood do not want the town centre to be killed off for the sake of an aggressive development company wanting to build a superstore on the ring road.

The properties that are to be sold off to Tesco do not belong to the 69 Kirklees councillors, they are ours.

The council and all who work for them are public servants and this includes the Planning and Regeneration departments who should be working to keep our heritage, not destroy it.

Barry Sheerman doesn’t live in Huddersfield all the time but he cares more about it than our council.

Now Tesco has been given the go-ahead, we the elderly residents of Spring Grove Street will have to live on a building site for two years plus.

We are all over 60 and some are over 90. You can swap homes with us for a week. Bet you couldn’t stand it.

Hazel Spencer