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Your correspondent is right to encourage people to give their views on the proposals the local NHS is currently discussing with residents (‘NHS cuts and the CCG’s consultation’, Herts Advertiser, August 9).
I’d like to reassure readers that we are absolutely committed to providing equal access to healthcare according to need. At the same time, the local NHS faces serious funding pressures that require some savings to be made.
The local NHS has a limited budget and care is increasingly expensive. The number of people who need health services is rising and many people are living longer, often with complex conditions.
Our board, led by local GPs, has to take steps to make the best use of the money available so that we can help as many people as possible to live healthier, longer lives, avoiding preventable illnesses.
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That’s why we are asking we are asking the public for their views on whether GPs should stop prescribing ‘over the counter’ medicines, plus proposals to limit IVF treatment, vasectomy and female sterilisation, restrict prescriptions for gluten-free foods and require people who smoke or are seriously overweight to make lifestyle changes before they receive non-urgent surgery.
In Hertfordshire the NHS spends more than £4million each year on prescribing medicines that can be bought easily in high street community pharmacies, supermarkets and other outlets such as petrol stations.
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Prescribing common medicines like paracetamol, ibuprofen and skin moisturisers is not the best way for GPs to use scarce NHS funds – especially given that items that often cost a small amount for an individual to buy can cost the NHS many times more.
With more than 240 pharmacies across the county, why make a GP appointment when you can talk to a pharmacist confidentially bbout your symptoms without making an appointment?
Many have consultation rooms and are conveniently open in the evenings and at weekends. We are not proposing changes to the prescribing of medicines to treat long-term conditions or to items you can’t buy without a prescription, such as antibiotics, statins and blood pressure and diabetes treatments.
Our consultation is open until September 14 2017, and we want to hear from everyone who uses local NHS services. All your readers are warmly invited to take part by visiting www.healthierfuture.org.uk/NHSLetsTalk
DR NICOLAS SMALL
Chair, Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group
It is very sad to see once again more shop closures in last week’s paper.
For Cuthberts Toys it looks like another victim of enormous rent and unfair business rates. It is not about lack of local support! This shop has a rates valuation of £900 per square metre compared to Amazon’s warehouse at £50 per sq m. A totally unfair system that punishes the small shops and rewards one of the richest men in the world!
We have also lost Wineworld in London Road, Maltings News, Bespoke Jewellery and Artisan Hair in the Maltings. It seems despite all the hot air from politicians nothing is being done to help small business. PAUL HUMPHREYS By email
Reference your August 3 Comment (Second Luton Runway?) and subsequent letters from readers fed up with current plane noise: it was LADACAN members who financed a Judicial Review that defeated the then Government’s proposal for such a parallel southern runway back in 2003.
However, since then there has been a steady increase in activity at Luton, most recently the current near-doubling of passenger capacity, all much encouraged by Luton Borough Council which greatly benefits financially pro-rata and is, conveniently, the planning authority.
Meanwhile it is the residents in nearby communities, who have no say in the matter, who have to put up with the increasing day & night noise (and road congestion). So much for local democracy!
I read the High Court judgement fully ( EWHC 1751 (Admin) Case No: CO/26/2017). It highlights a crucial aspect missed elsewhere.
It says the planning inspector who examined Dacorum Core Strategy, reported in July 2013 a need for cooperation between St Albans and Dacorum to ‘assess how land east of Hemel - Gorhambury land in St Albans district - could help meet Dacorum’s housing needs’.
In November 2016 it was the same inspector who failed St Albans cooperation over its plan. He reiterated his 2013 conclusion about Dacorum strategy of putting some of their housing in St Albans.
This issue is about much more than infrastructure. If Dacorum – and the Inspector – have their way and put some of ‘their’ new homes on St Albans land, would it be in addition to whatever SADC have in ‘our’ plan? (probably so).
Would we have to sacrifice more of our Green Belt because Dacorum don’t want to lose more of theirs?
Is their marginal Green Belt better than ours?
Will we be forced to look again at land such as Beesonend Lane which was reported as of marginal value as Green Belt? Or re-do the whole Green Belt assessment?
If Dacorum have chosen a lower density of housing – requiring more land – should we have to accept that choice as it impacts on us?
Will we be consulted again on the revised plan? How could SADC defend not doing so?
SADC resident, name and address supplied
I was disappointed to read the results of the finalists in the Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards. Chez Mumtaj in St Albans won Chef of the Year. The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden was a finalist in the Restaurant of the Year category.
Both these restaurants have fois gras on their menu, despite being asked previously by animal lovers to remove it from their menus on the grounds of cruelty.
For those of your readers who don’t know, foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose fattened by force feeding corn into the bird with a feeding tube.
Ducks are force-fed twice a day and geese three times a day.
It is a cruel and distressing way to feed an animal and carried out simply to make their livers bigger and more fatty.
I will never give these two restaurants my custom and I hope that your readers will vote with their feet and avoid these and other restaurants who serve this cruelly produced so-called luxury food.
Ayot Place, Ayot St Peter, near Wheathampstead
At last Anne Main MP is recognising the injustice for women like myself, denied our State Pension until 66 due to more changes in the Pensions Acts, despite having worked all my life, making the necessary National Insurance contributions.
I am pleased to see her state in the recent Commons debate of July 4 on the subject, that “something must be done to redress the imbalance.”
This is a much more sympathetic stance than that of March 2016, when I wrote to her on several issues, one of which was this.
She stated in her correspondence to me then that the government “will not be revisiting this issue.’
Mrs Main also cited an unprecedented sharp increase in life expectancy at the time for the acceleration of the latter part of the timetable, affecting women like me.
However, a recently released study on life expectancy improvements, undertaken by a team of academics at University College, London, led by Sir Michael Marmot, states that life expectancy improvements are pretty close to grinding to a halt, blaming as its causes the “miserly funding of the NHS, and social care, and the rise in dementia cases.’
It found that since 2010, “historical increases in life expectancy have dramatically stalled”.
In the light of this information, it is only right and just that Mrs Main’s government does ‘revisit’ and reconsider its position.
Instead of this, we have one of Mrs Main’s colleagues, the Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, suggesting that hard-working women in their 60s. encountering an unexpected less financially secure period of their lives, take up an apprenticeship, yes, an apprenticeship, to re-enter the workforce.
Shame on him.
I hope that the 4,000 women in St Albans constituency affected by these changes will make their voices heard and stand up against this injustice, particularly in the light of Mrs Main’s reduced majority.
I applaud the campaigning done on this by the WASPI women, and the insightful contributions from Labour’s Grahame Morris, and SNP’s Mhairi Black.
They have all helped us know that we are not forgotten.
We have just seen how money can be found from the public purse to strike a deal with the DUP to prop up this government, yet we are supposed to endure more austerity through cuts to our pensions.
Waterside, London Colney
I would like to express my gratitude to the lady who stopped to help me when my sports car broke down on the M25 near Heathrow on Sunday afternoon
All I know was that she was going to St Albans. She stayed with me until the RAC recovery vehicle arrived to take me back to Leicestershire. I did appreciate her kindness.
DAVID NORRIS By email
Eric Roberts (August 3) and Alan Bunting (August 10) have drawn attention to the risk to passenger service punctuality if the Radlett freight depot goes ahead. Of equal, or greater, concern is the risk to safety.
Many readers will remember the Watford train crash of 1996 in which one person died and a further 69 were injured.
That occurred when a passenger train, running on time, passed a signal that was set at red to allow another train to cross the line.
This conflicting movement was a key factor in the accident.
As Mr Bunting points out, conflicting movements would appear to be routine at Radlett, unless a grade-separated junction is to be built.