MP thanks

I WOULD like to thank our MP Rishi Sunak for his insight into what is really happening at our beloved Friarage Hospital (D&S Times, Mar 8).

Having read his column, I feel more confident that someone is going to hold the trust to its promises over the future of the hospital. This is such an important issue and it is good to know that he is taking the time to get under the skin of what matters to the people he represents and he is prepared to fight for the best deal possible.

I hope he has more success than his predecessor William Hague who we all remember heading the protest march down the High Street when the maternity changes were going through. Despite the fact that Mr Hague was in effect Number 2 to the Prime Minister at the time, the changes still went through.

Bethany Morris, Stokesley

Right analysis

RISHI SUNAK (D&S Times, Mar 8) is absolutely right in his analysis of what's gone wrong at the Friarage Hospital. It's not about money, it's about anaesthetists and critical care doctors not wanting to work there.

At the weekend I had a very interesting conversation with my grandson who has just completed his basic training to be a doctor and is about to start his specialist training to be, strangely enough, an anaesthetist. He was able to give me an interesting insight into why there is a shortage of anaesthetists.

In his training cohort he is the only one who has chosen this speciality. He told me his colleagues were all drawn to disciplines which are seen as somehow more glamorous, such as cardiac surgery, neuro-surgery, paediatrics or even general practice. He has chosen anaesthesia because he knows there is a shortage and when he qualifies he will be able to pick and choose where he works. Smart choice I thought.

Then I asked him if, when qualified, he would consider working at a hospital like the Friarage. His reply was most illuminating.

Despite being a local lad (born in the Friarage as it happens) who comes north regularly to visit his grandparents, he told me it would not be attractive.

Rather shockingly, he described it as the kiss-of-death career-wise. The hospital was too small with too few emergency patients and being a anaesthetist there would not enable him to develop and hone his skills.

He said his chosen discipline was becoming more and more specialised which in turn was being driven by technological developments and new techniques. He hopes to develop skills as an anaesthetist in chronic pain management, something he is only likely to be able to do in a large hospital with a lot of patients.

My grandson's perspective was depressing but it did explain to me why the Friarage is facing these present difficulties.

Edward Harden, Catterick Garrison

Hospital future

THE letters and articles concerning the fate of the A&E department at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, have a particular significance for me, being an inhabitant of that remote district known as Upper Wensleydale.

It is no exaggeration to say that in 2015 the NHS saved my life, initially by the rapid appearance of an ambulance from nearby Bainbridge, with the superb crew keeping me going until handing over to the equally expert care of a Friarage surgical team.

Following a number of blood transfusions, a very delicate and difficult operation was performed. To paraphrase and misquote the first Duke of Wellington " it was a damn close-run thing" and if I had been taken to a hospital further away, it is most unlikely that I would have survived.

I have no party political affiliation or allegiance, but I do recall a speech by Neil Kinnock which included the words: "I warn you not to fall ill, and I warn you not to grow old." In the present metro-centric hospital health service scenario, one might well add: "I warn you not to live in a rural area."

It has been stated that the changes to the Friarage's A&E are temporary. In this context it is worth remembering that income tax, both here and in the USA, was also introduced using that much misused word. As the Nobel prize-winning American economist Milton Friedman once wrote: "Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program."

Michael Waldman, Leyburn


THANK you for your extensive coverage (D&S Times, Mar 8) of the situation at the Friarage Hospital, a place we all know and love because we have either been treated there or have friends and family who work or have worked there.

I would particularly thank Dr James Dunbar of the Friarage and our local MP Rishi Sunak for their explanations of what is happening and what is at stake. Mr Sunak is clearly "on the trust's case".

One thing I think is clear now is that what is happening is not about cuts. I was frankly astounded that the plan the trust is working on as part of the "sustainable future" for the Friarage will cost an extra £1.7m a year to run.

I imagine many readers will struggle to square how the trust can plan to spend an extra £1.7m on the Friarage but offer a lesser service. I hope the Trust will explain this in next week's issue.

Jane Saunders

Romanby, Northallerton

New outlet

I HAVE the greatest respect and admiration for Sir Gary Verity. He is a wonderful ambassador for Yorkshire.

However, I’m not quite sure that I would agree with him being delighted with the Scotch Corner designer outlet (D&S Times, Jan 4) and what that will mean for tourism.

Out of town shopping centres are probably a major factor in the decline of our traditional town centres.

One only has to look at the towns near to out of town developments to see how they have been affected.

Darlington town centre is already suffering badly. What will the new Scotch Corner retail outlet do to the town?

Richmond too will also suffer badly and even towns such as Barnard Castle and Northallerton will see their retail spends fall.

Does anyone recall what happened to Gateshead town centre after the Metro Centre opened? Gateshead completely died as a shopping destination.

Even in so-called vibrant York, the main shopping street has nearly nine empty shops and yet the designer outlet south of York is to be expanded with a further 25 shops.

If we want to save our town centres we must put a stop to all out-of-town developments and re-invest in our town centres.

It’s no good making all these new jobs available at Scotch Corner if staff are going to be made redundant at retail businesses in towns far and wide, affected by the new development.

Dale Edwards, York


A STUDY of our history shows us that we are European.

We were, of course, once joined to continental Europe. Then the ERG group got their Stone Age workers to dig out a deep trench. They called it the English Channel. Although it was probably caused by a tsunami off Norway. (This is now known as the Norway Option.)

Even our fossils once roamed Europe. The Celts had inhabited much of Europe, and decided they needed more woolly mammoth. They liked it here and decided to stay for a long time.

Then the Romans came – Veni, Vidi, Vici. Julius Caesar's trips were followed by a full Roman occupation under Claudius. Reminding us of that modern emperor, Donald Trump – they liked building walls. Eventually, they went back home. "Leave Means Leave" or as it appeared on their posters: "Relinquo Relinquere Modo".

However, they left us lots of interesting walls straight roads, forts, mosaics and super tourist attractions and they buried lots of things for us to dig up for our museums.

Then we had: Angles, Frisians, Saxons and Jutes. (Who must have seen the posts on the Roman Tripadvisor.) They settled too. Imagine the poster opposing those invaders – Nigel Farage followers dressed up in animal skins carrying their swords and shields.

Meanwhile, the Pope sent us Saint Augustine. He thought it would be brilliant if we became Christians. It seemed a good idea at the time, but it ended in trouble.

Viking raids soon followed, just as we were getting used to Christianity. They built a big settlement at Jorvik – as I know from school trips. (A bit like Viking invasions, but with packed lunches and sick-bags.)

Also, the Danes wanted a bit of the action and launched an invasion and occupied Northumbria, but they brought Lurpak, so they were not all bad.

After that, Alfred the Great burnt the cakes, but that was because the scribes hadn't translated Mary Berry's recipes from the Latin. However, things improved for the Anglo-Saxons until... 1066. We all remember that date!

This was when the first Great British Sewing Bee needed inspiration for a new sewing tapestry challenge. The Norman conquest, under William the Conqueror, saw the "gilets jaunes" arrive here from Normandy. They stayed a lot longer.

Our island history has been entwined with Europe for centuries; our culture has been enriched by our ties to Europe. The royal family has more links to Europe than Danny Dyer. Through marriage, they are linked to all the royal families of Europe – from Portugal to Russia. George V changed their name to Windsor as the others – Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Teck and Battenberg sounded too foreign. (However, I am partial to a slice of Battenberg cake.)

The foundation of the European Union was to ensure there was peace after two horrific world wars.

The idea was that if we worked and traded with each other then it would stop us going to war in the future. Unity would give protection for workers, justice for all and each country would be helped to make progress by sharing knowledge, education, science and technology.

There are still visitors from Europe, but they are not warriors and invaders. They are doctors, nurses, carers, builders, scientists, teachers and students. They have contributed to our society, but they have been made to feel unwelcome.

Perhaps our feuding politicians should look back further than the British Empire to remind themselves that our links to Europe go back a long, long way. Politics may divide us from Europe, but our history will keep us together.

Terence Fleming, Guisborough


WHAT a shambles! We have a Government unable to govern and an Opposition unable to oppose, who have between them reduced the Parliament of Great Britain, the Mother of Parliaments, to an impotent embarrassment.

They’ve been unable to respect or enact the result of the last, non-binding, referendum. So, let’s truly take back control, extend Article 50, and have an up-to-date, legally binding second referendum.

There will then be absolutely no doubt where the will of the people lies right now, and the electorate will be almost three years better informed.

There should be three options: 1. May’s Deal, 2. No-deal, or 3. Remain. If the sum of one and two exceeds the Remain vote, then we leave by the most popular route.

We have learnt a lot in the last three years about both the EU and the likely consequences of leaving, so it’s only fair that Remain be again an option.

Whatever the outcome, a binding referendum must produce an absolute decree from the people, an order of supreme democracy which may not be countermanded by our so-called representatives.

And then we sack the lot of them and have a general election.

Power to the people!

Shona Thomas, Darlington

First of all our head Councillors take care of them self's so they can have a comfortable life, then they put up the council tax by a substantial bit, so lets see why they are doing this, I read in the paper these top councillors want 40m + for the run down airport, your, our money's is not to buy out a Private business that could go belly up, then the councillors want 60m + to build a council HQ that will for a better word, pollute Durham city center, but, they said it could create 6000 jobs, (poppy cock).

For me our councillors do think they are making things better for our communities and they are but only for them self's and the higher middle class, and not for us peasants as Blaster Bates would say.

Like I say, they are wanting more for them self's, and the money's that comes out of the kitty we all put in.

I would like to see the minimum wage go up higher, ie £10, and have a maximum wage for people being payed from government moneys, ie £80000, with no perks like expense's, that should put £1000 a week and more in there pocket after tax, and wouldn't that be nice people.

T Rhodes. Bedale