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In response to your recent front page story on the finances of Herts Valleys CCG, it is fat people who cause the biggest problem.

It might not be politically correct to point the finger but it is blindingly obvious that if you are lugging around extra body flesh your joints are bound to wear out earlier, and that means that the queue for joint replacement becomes longer.

Fat causes your skin to bulge, giving that muffin shape, but it is also placed around your abdominal organs so that the contents push up, reducing the amount of lung space. Not only does it give you shortness of breath but is a sheer headache for the anaesthetist when you are being operated on. Your reduced oxygen capacity means your respiratory system is under risk. It will also mean that healing will take longer.

These factors mean that your stay in hospital is longer or you become a burden on the community services, for dressings as well as physiotherapy to get you ambulant again.

If you are overweight and want to get pregnant, you are going to be huge with a baby inside you, which is not a healthy proposition for motherhood or the baby.

Your pancreas is so overworked by having to churn out so much more insulin to get your blood sugar to normal after guzzling more than you need from overeating surgary and starchy food. This means that it starts to fail, giving you diabetes. Monitoring of your condition as well as all the drugs and needles and syringes means less money in the coffers for other people.

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Smoking cigarettes may help your stress, but not your lungs or anyone else. The mess you make with the fag ends and empty packets is disgusting, but that lovely thick black coating in your lungs will mean you will be prone to cancer, chest infections, a poor risk for surgery, and slow at rehabilitation.

The National Health Service is there to keep us all healthy, so it is right that the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group is looking at ways to reduce the overspend. They are taking measures to make sure that those patients who are abusing themselves and the system in their unhealthy habits try to do something about it.

The only other alternatives are that we do nothing, and the system collapses or that we pay more. I am for the new measures, what are you for?

MAUREEN MCCAFFREY The Hill, Wheathampstead

A few days ago I visited the annual exhibition of our Local History Society in London Colney, where I was reminded of previous activity in this village by the scrapbooks on display, among the photographs or other memorabilia. I was disturbed by the issues that had been raised by newspaper cuttings over many years, yet remain unresolved even today.

It seems as if nobody is in charge of events that affect our lives, as we recall ‘lost causes’ and reflect on the insidious damage some decisions have made on our lives here. We think that local opinions were dismissed as others pushed their particular interests before we organised our own responses: and the consequences developed into our present situation as an outlying village at a regular disadvantage.

The process goes on still, as we are now informed of plans to build a new village beside our already congested community, with no proper consultation from adjacent boroughs hoping to push problems our way.

Never mind what will happen as a result, when the traffic overwhelms us as it pours from Junction 22 on the M25 and through our streets to escape the inevitable jams being created as other schemes are pushed through. It is time to take stock, before the manic planners destroy our former way of life to satisfy their ambitions!

Our records show (in black and white) how the route of this motorway was diverted outwards to avoid harming Shenley, even if then longer and steeper than necessary, and cutting into smelly old rubbish tips.

An extra junction was imposed here despite our protests of a traffic nightmare, but nobody listened, so our ‘relief bypass’ became another part of the busy system, made worse by dropping the 7.5 tonne limit through our High Street and moving streams of commuter drivers every day along our crowded roads without much attempt to control speeds.

Add to this mobile misery, poor response from local government when improvements are requested, and you will realise why many people are asking why our compulsory contributions in rates etc do not ensure a fair deal in return?

There are many outstanding issues to discuss now, but it is difficult to find anyone willing to take notice of local opinion, or who will admit to any responsibility for our plight. It’s time to address our concerns before it is too late. Our history is well-documented so we are proud of our heritage: but we must do more to secure our future, and protect what we have left.

KEN PEAK London Colney Village Concern Richardson Close, London Colney

Apologies to my fans and fellow readers for my prolonged absence. I am in a place of spiritual and harmonious bliss, far far away from St Albans, but very much in touch with our wonderful local newspaper. I am given to understand that there has been concern for my welfare. Well, I am doing very well thank you and am very much in love with life.

I read with some alarm the recent events in Harpenden re muggings. Now there was a time when one could walk through this quaint town with the biggest risk to one’s health being tripping over a silver spoon or slipping on the shiny cover of discarded Debretts, but oh no, it has now, heaven forfend, degenerated into a pseudo-Tottenham with trees.

No longer leafy, safe and salubrious, Harpers has become a fully fledged member of the 21st century joining the ranks of the common people with this recent spate of personal robberies.

It’s enough to turn the purple rinse brigade even more doolally, make millenials mindful of maverick malevolents moving masterfully to mug them behind a magnolia bush and the Matthews and Miriams choke on their designer muesli with the shock of it all. Too many Ms. Back to reality.

And the reality is, dear reader, that Harpenden has, with this latest spate of crimes, lost its kudos, lost its mojo, lost its exclusivity.

Once the reserve of the rich and the meek and the mild, it has transmogrified into AN Othertown, a place where you’re just as likely to suffer crime as any other place in this godforsaken, crime-ridden, bigoted country.

Lest you become a victim in the hallowed streets of 919 land (the former STD code for Harpenden), best invest in a silver Nissan Micra where you can, if a robber strikes, take to the Harpenden Road in flight, driving 39.6 miles per hour of course. I thank you!


The Christmas lights at Southdown were fantastic at Christmas 2016 and indeed have been so for many years. I was therefore left dumbfounded when I read in the Herts Ad that there were to be none this year.

Despite being up for 20 years Harpenden council have now decided that the anchor bolts are unsafe. Whilst this seems like health and safety gone mad what is even more disgraceful is that they knew this last Christmas and yet now say they have not had enough time to fix them. How long do they need and the date of the next Christmas is not that difficult to predict! Is there another reason such as mismanagement of council budgets - I think we should be told.

I am sure the great Christmas display has led to increased footfall at Southdown over previous Christmasses and correspondingly an increase in business for the shops there. Surely promotion of business for local shops should be a priority for the local council and in this instance they have failed dismally.

Might I suggest it is not yet too late - it is only the first week of November and if someone from the council rings up a local contractor I’m sure they will be able to fix the problem in time for a licence to be granted and for the Southdown shops to get the lovely display of lights they deserve. STEVE PRYOR Granby Avenue, Harpenden

Your front page article of October 26 presented a picture of Herts Valleys CCG that was out of date and we wanted to make sure your readers were aware of how things stand now and for them to know a bit more about the background.

The information is all freely available and was actually published by us as part of our own annual report. You can find it on our website and it relates to last year – the year that ended March 2017. There was nothing to reveal as we have been open about our very challenging finances.

It is also important to stress that CCGs across the NHS in all parts of the country are facing similar financial constraints and having to find ways to slow down the increase in spending that we are all seeing, and to work within ever- restricted budgets.

We have held a series of public meetings over the last few months, to discuss our ‘let’s talk’ proposals. At those sessions, our new chief executive Kathryn Magson – who joined us just a few months ago and who attended and led almost all those public meetings personally - outlined the scale of the financial pressures.

She has also been able to talk through some of the actions we are taking to get back into financial balance. We have had a root- and- branch review of our all finances and have, for example, closed down one of our staff offices.

We also now have a much stricter approach to managing our contracts with those NHS and private organisations that provide services.

Changes and improvements to the way some services are provided are also being implemented and these are more efficient; the physiotherapy and the wider musculo skeletal service is one example of this.

In recognition of the issues we faced last year, we also commissioned a thorough review of our governance arrangements and other ways that we operate. As a result we now have some new ways of doing things in place and working well.

For example, many more of our decisions are now being taken by our full board rather than being delegated to committees or individuals.

Our finances are now beginning to look more in line with what is expected and whilst we still need to find considerable savings, we are making significant progress.

Part of this improvement is because we have not shied away from some difficult decisions and I am very pleased that so many local people came and gave us their very helpful feedback during the recent ‘let’s talk’ consultation.


Chair of Herts Valleys CCG

Voting has been in the news a lot over the last few years. After each result was declared it was argued that the voters did not have enough information to make a rational choice.

There is a very important local issue on which we have a lot of information: the future of St. Albans City Hospital (SACH)

The West Herts Hospital Trust, which runs SACH, plans to re-develop SACH’s buildings to continue to provide planned day surgery, ante-natal and community midwifery, outpatient and diagnostic services, and clinical support including X-ray, ultra-sound, mammography and blood and specimen collection.

It aspires to provide new buildings and facilities to develop SACH as a centre for cancer care and the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (which works closely with the Trust) is investigating upgrading our Minor Injuries Unit into an Urgent Treatment Centre.

I ask your readers to consider how they would vote about those plans. Would they vote “Yes; we support the plans, we want to keep our hospital!” or would they vote “No; we don’t support those plans, we want to lose our hospital!”

I think the answer is obvious. I hope your readers do too.


Chair St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group