Marvellous NHS

ON July 21 I fell ill and was admitted to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

My health deteriorated rapidly, and within a few days I was moved to James Cook in Middlesbrough. For about five weeks I was looked after in the Intensive Care Unit, a time I had little awareness of.

With the amazing support and care from the ICU team I survived and was eventually transferred back to the Friarage to their high dependency ward where I continued to receive wonderful care from so many caring health care professionals.

After a month on a general ward I was moved to the Rutson Ward, a rehabilitation ward where I was supported by another great team, including some very patient physiotherapists. They helped me regain my strength, my confidence and enabled me to return home on December 1.

I’ve been fortunate in my 82 years to have enjoyed good health, this is the first time I have had to spend so much time in a hospital. Before this experience I had heard negative reports about the NHS and was therefore really very surprised at the superb dedicated care I received in every ward during the 19 weeks of my stay.

It would impossible to single out one ward or a few health care professionals for special praise, they were one big team who, working together, saved my life.

If I ever hear anyone saying a negative thing about our NHS I will put them straight. I have personally experienced the first-class service the NHS delivers, the health care professional who looked after me repeatedly went the extra mile in my care, often when they were understaffed and tired.

I was looked after by some amazing people and they deserve praise and a special thank-you, I am in no doubt that the staff at James Cook and The Friarage saved my life.

We really must fund our NHS service properly and importantly we should pay a fair wage to the wonderful staff who work there, for next time it might be you who needs their help.

Ursula Bussey, East Witton

No-deal Brexit

YOUR correspondent Thomas Ball (D&S Times letters, Dec 7), sadly seems to be ignorant of the effect that the no deal Brexit he advocates would have, so let us indulge in a little parable.

I assume he drives a car or if he doesn’t he is aware of some of rules and responsibilities associated with being a car owner and driver.

So, our hypothetical driver has a mental aberration with regard to his car. First he believes that every year he pays out a huge sum (in reality less than one per cent) in insurance and gets nothing back in return so decides to withhold that sum and use it to enhance his lifestyle.

Also he is still making payments towards the cost of his car that he promised, ie signed a legal agreement, to continue making for some time into the future. These he cancels claiming he gets no benefit from them.

He is then contacted about renewing his road tax. "This is a rule being imposed by a government that is not the party I belong to" he says. "I have had no part in agreeing it so I am not going to obey it." Albeit it was the party he belongs to that was originally responsible for introducing it.

Next he sees that his car is due for its MOT. "Nanny state," he declares. "I know when my car is safe to drive. I refuse to have it tested. Just more unnecessary rules."

Then his rescue association subscription has to be renewed. He decides this is another agency that he can dispense with.

Having reached his 70th birthday around the same time, he takes no action to confirm that he is medically fit to drive so his licence expires. (You could be forgiven for thinking that he wasn’t fit to drive)

But outwardly all appears as normal so he gets into his car and as he is driving along a wheel comes off and he swerves into a lamp-post and ends up with his injuries being treated by knowledgeable and non-judgemental NHS staff who just happen to be from other states of the EU.

He will now have a heavy price to pay, not least being the loss of his reputation as a reliable person with whom to have dealings.

Perhaps he could try sitting around a table and negotiating a deal with the insurance company, the finance company, the DVLA, the AA etc. One can just hope that our driver is someone with strength, character and who doesn’t want to see himself ending up as the laughing stock of his acquaintance and, assuming it was in this area, the entire readership of the Darlington & Stockton Times.

I leave your readers to interpret this as they will.

Janet Hall, nr Richmond


I NOTE with some bemusement the letter of Thomas Ball (D&S Times letters, Dec 7). As with many of your correspondents, he pontificates on Europe with seemingly little knowledge. He declares that the EU would soon sit around a table if... etc.

Actually, Brexit is about seventh in polls of European public priories. Should Mr Ball doubt this, he can easily look online at the websites of national broadcasters and leading European newspapers.

There are even some translated into English to help him. Brexit will be there but he will have to seek diligently.

As for his desire to avoid Britain being the "laughing stock of Europe", the mere attempt to change a leader and chief negotiator at the present moment can only contribute to that hilarity in European capitals.

Furthermore, who, does Mr Ball think, is that "someone with strength, character", that someone who can reopen negotiations and secure a better deal and have the Europeans begging us to take their Volkswagens and brie as we were promised would be so?

J. Fyles, Thirsk

Positive note

AFTER a year of grim political news, it is good to end on a positive note – the agreement at the UN Climate Conference in Poland. What has been agreed is less than we would like, and less than is urgently needed, but it is a small step forward.

The struggle to get the world to face up to climate change continues. We are motivated by three thoughts. First is the scale of the problem, and the worst-case scenario, which we must do all we can to avoid.

Secondly, we know that it is possible to move to a zero-carbon economy. We have the technology of renewable energy – all we need is the political will to invest in it.

Third and last, we know that struggles to do the right things continue and always succeed in the end. Popular movements turning into political action have achieved universal suffrage, defeated fascism, created the National Health Service, and confronted racism and homophobia.

There have been setbacks recently, but peace, social justice, and a decent life for all are achievable.

For the green movement, the glass is always half full.

John Yorke, Green party parliamentary candidate, Richmondshire

Not ruled

IN 2010 William Hague was leader of the Conservative Party with the slogan “In Europe but not ruled by Europe”. Geographically we will always be part of Europe, and although we have fought several wars in Europe, it is almost a thousand years since we were last invaded.

When we consider the European Union, it is very difficult to decide what would be the best option for the United Kingdom.

There are very good reasons staying in the EU, and also very good reasons for leaving. Both options are promoted with equal enthusiasm and passion by politicians and journalists, but who should one believe?

A successful economy is essential, but there is no agreement about how we would we fare under World Trade terms.

Perhaps we would all be better off if the EU collapsed. There is dissatisfaction throughout the EU. Great Britain could take the lead in returning to a Common Market, which is what people thought that they were voting for in 1975.

At the last referendum many people were voting to leave the EU, but there was little agreement about what they were actually voting for.

The Prime Minister's agreement may not satisfy everyone and it is very easy for armchair politicians to claim that they could have done better, without actually understanding what has gone on behind the scenes.

Miles Garnett, South Otterington

Cycling popularity

APPARENTLY, cycling is 11 times more popular in the Netherlands than in the UK.

A major factor must be that Holland is as flat as a pancake, whilst our sceptred isle has a few ups and downs, to say the least.

Apparently, only four per cent of people in the UK cycle every day. Isn’t it therefore remarkable that, competitively, the UK is at the top of the cycling world?

It’s all very well riding our bikes as a means of sporting success; but we Brits must use them more widely to reduce our fossil fuel output and to secure mankind’s future on this, our planet, Earth.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor

Selfish interests

THERESA MAY’S latest crisis has shown us the real reason behind Brexit, why all this chaos and confusion was launched onto the British public.

It has little to with sovereignty or “the People’s Vote”. It is more about the struggle for power within the Conservative Party.

David Cameron started it, trying to fend off his rivals. Mrs May could well end it by resigning.

Please could some of our politicians spend a bit more time and effort thinking about what is best for the country, rather than their own interests.

Bill Bartle, Barnard Castle

Christmas duty

CHRISTMAS and New Year is a time when most people are celebrating with family and friends, but many of our staff will be leaving their families and friends at home and coming into work to provide a vital service to people who fall ill or who are involved in a medical emergency.

Hundreds of staff, including paramedics, call handlers in NHS 111 and our Emergency Operations Centre, and volunteers will be on duty on Christmas Day and over the festive season.

This is an extremely busy period for us so it is a time when I feel the most proud of all our staff and volunteers who are missing time with their families to put others first. That is why it is so important that I say “thank you” to our staff and let them know that their hard work and compassion are very much appreciated by everyone here at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, by our partners in the NHS and other agencies, but most importantly by the public we serve.

To the public, I would ask that you spare a thought for our dedicated staff and volunteers who will be working over the festive period and only dial 999 in a genuine medical emergency to ensure that our ambulances are available for those who need them most.

Anyone with a minor illness or injury should use the appropriate services for their needs such as their local pharmacist or GP, attending a walk-in-centre or minor injuries unit or calling NHS 111.

I would urge everyone to treat our staff with the dignity and respect they deserve. Unfortunately, far too often, they find themselves at the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse, but this is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This year saw a welcome new law introducing much tougher sentencing for anyone assaulting emergency service workers.

If you do need to use our services, rest assured that we are here to help you. During the past 12 months we have invested in additional staff and are continuing the refresh of our fleet with over 130 new emergency ambulances being introduced in a phased roll-out.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our staff, NHS colleagues and emergency service partners working during the festive season and your readers a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

Rod Barnes, chief executive, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Licence fee

IT IS reported that the construction of the new EastEnders set is to cost £27m more than was planned (Echo, Dec 13).

Is this why there is now a threat to remove free licence fees for the over 75s?

In answer to the BBC's invitation, I have contacted it through its website suggesting that instead of penalising the older generation they should reduce the salaries of their many personalities.

After having talked to them, perhaps these personalities would volunteer to have this reduction of perhaps at least 20 per cent.

I know however in advance it is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. Footballers receive large salaries but the public have a choice of whether to attend or not. The licence fee, however, is compulsory.

I have just received my reminder which shows it will cost me £150.50. Despite the fact that the BBC does not show any Elvis Presley films, I do think that it is very good value.

I did advise the BBC in my correspondence that "the graveyards are full of indispensable people".

Mike Taylor, Darlington

On the road

SEVERAL years ago, the then Darlington Council leader, Bill Dixon, pledged to make the A66 bypass a dual carriageway.

If enough funds are not available for that, would it not be possible to make it part dual carriageway from Great Burdon to Morton Palms?

T Luxmore, Darlington