Letters: Efficient healthcare delivered by the NHS in partnership with the private sector

A record 7.3 million people are currently on NHS waiting lists - Jordan Pettitt
A record 7.3 million people are currently on NHS waiting lists - Jordan Pettitt

SIR – On April 25 I had an eye test at a high-street eye clinic and it was decided that I needed a cataract operation. I was referred by the NHS to a private provider, and after an initial assessment I had the operation on May 25. (It would have been 10 days earlier but I had to decline the initial appointment due to a prior commitment.)

The process was carefully engineered and the care was excellent. I was in and out of the clinic in about two hours, and most of that time was spent waiting for eye drops to work. The operation itself took five minutes.

Parts of the NHS are working well with the assistance of the private sector. This approach needs to be more widely used.

Jenny Furness
Doncaster, South Yorkshire

SIR – I worked for more than 20 years as a secretary in a GP practice. While many patients were seen and treated by private providers, consideration did need to be given to the limitations of such referrals.

There were many restrictions, particularly with regard to pre-existing conditions, which affected whether the private provider would accept the referral or not. I would like to think these issues have been addressed, but I am not confident.

Additionally, if private providers are now prepared to see suspected cancer patients (report, May 24), there needs to be certainty that after diagnosis the patient can be treated within the private sector and not bounced back to the NHS.

Julie Cutts
Iver, Buckinghamshire

SIR – I read with interest the news that more choice will be offered through the NHS app (report, May 25).

However, since a cancer diagnosis last autumn, I have had various scans, blood tests and a number of operations, but none of them show up on my app. To date the only information I have received is discharge letters, of which I have already been given hard copies.

Robert Ramsay
Lewes, East Sussex

Modern slavery

SIR – With many G20 governments having pledged to take robust action against modern slavery, it is deeply concerning that Walk Free’s global slavery index reveals that adequate action to stop forced labour in global supply chains is not being taken, despite legal remedies being available (report,, May 24).

Countries in the G20 are in prime position to tackle this crime. They are home to more than half of all people living in situations of modern slavery, and they import £378 billion of at-risk products annually.

Yet rampant consumption of artificially cheap goods, compounded by the impact of climate change, conflict and the aftermath of Covid-19, have all created an environment in which the world’s most vulnerable and desperate can too readily be exploited.

Slavery continues to flourish – on fishing vessels in Indonesia, in cotton mills in Pakistan, cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, solar panel factories in China, and in countless other places.

To live up to their commitments to tackle slavery, G20 countries must shift from woolly and unenforceable good intentions and take concrete steps to end this horrendous exploitation. The Walk Free report details how this can be done, working alongside survivors and communities most at risk, and we commend it to G20 leaders.

Nick Grono
CEO, The Freedom Fund
London N1

Home-chopped chips

SIR – Patti Page (Letters, May 26) prefers freshly chopped potato chips to the ghastly, tasteless frozen variety.

Baked in the oven after a coating of olive oil and spices of your choice, home-chopped chips are both delicious and cheaper.

Archie Douglas
Whitton, Middlesex

SIR – I buy frozen chips as I have arthritic wrists and find it very painful to chop anything up.

Judith Daniel
Leavenheath, Suffolk

Police leadership

SIR – In the world of professional football, managers rarely publicly criticise individual players, as that is left for the dressing room. The reason for this is fairly obvious.

Sir Iain Livingstone, the retiring chief constable of Police Scotland, has done the exact opposite (“Police Scotland is racist and sexist, says chief constable”, report, May 26). He’s thrown every one of his officers under a bus, just at a time when his team is on the brink of relegation.

Officers are struggling to cope at street level with reduced numbers and increased responsibilities (not necessarily crime-related), and what they don’t need is their chief dropping a hand grenade on them while walking out the door.

Jim Kirkwood
Retired superintendent
Kilmarnock, Ayrshire

Ten-second checkout

SIR – I am pleased that Marks and Spencer is introducing more self-service tills (“M&S’s endless self-checkout rollout carries big risks”, Business, May 25).

The existing ones are usually few in number and there are often queues of customers with large baskets of items, who all seem to require the staff to handle refunds and pack everything for them.

It is a delight to buy one item in 10 seconds.

David Faulks
Hove, East Sussex

SIR – As a working pensioner, I prefer self-checkout as it means the checkout person isn’t throwing my purchases through the till, resulting in bruised fruit and vegetables and cracked biscuits.

Rupert Mindelsohn
Marlborough, Wiltshire

SIR – My local Marks and Spencer food store converted to 100 per cent self-checkout tills a couple of years ago and I have not set foot in it since.

It can expect the same response when it rolls out this wretched concept to its clothing and home departments.

Kevin Duffy

Reusing rainwater

SIR – For the average household, a system to collect and store rainwater to provide for flushing lavatories and other “grey” purposes adds only a small percentage to the overall cost of the dwelling (Letters, May 26).

While a large cistern is ideal, a storage system would function very well using an ordinary large water butt as the reservoir, with a header tank to feed water where needed. The piping, wiring, pump, filters and other items such as float switches should be easy to install for competent plumbers and electricians. Of course, it would be necessary to install the normal water systems as well, and to provide a safe automatic switchover when the header tank and reservoir were empty, but modern equipment must exist to do this.

I have long campaigned for such systems to be installed in all dwellings and other buildings for human use. Once in place across the country they would perform the functions of a reservoir, reduce demands on rivers and buffer runoff after heavy rain.

John Neimer
Stoborough, Dorset

SIR – I thought that the rainwater harvesting system installed when we moved into a converted pub three years ago was a great idea.

Unfortunately, however, we live in one of the driest parts of the country, so the rainwater tank is more often than not being topped up from the mains.

The harvesting system needs a complex filtering set up that costs £30 to £40 every six months or so when it has to be replaced.

The system also requires a sophisticated pump (when our neighbour’s failed recently it cost £700 to replace).

We are seriously thinking about bypassing the system altogether.

David Levy
Wymondham, Norfolk

SIR – I live in Maraetai, New Zealand, where it is common to harvest rainwater.

In our Auckland suburb we do not have reticulated water – it would cost far too much to supply our large community with piped water. However, with two tanks in our garden and by being careful in our usage during the summer, we manage to grow vegetables and keep ourselves clean.

However, the best thing is the taste: our water is twice filtered before it enters the house, and it makes the best tea. In fact, I no longer drink tea unless at home because I am always disappointed by the taste.

So my advice is if you want to collect rainwater, do it. You won’t regret it.

Susan Scott-Knight
Maraetai, Auckland, New Zealand

Online shopping is no match for the real thing

The Milliner’s Shop (1913) by the German Expressionist painter August Macke - bridgeman images
The Milliner’s Shop (1913) by the German Expressionist painter August Macke - bridgeman images

SIR – Having read Judith Woods’s article on the hell of internet shopping (Features, May 23), I can strongly recommend going into a city store that has cubicles with mirrors, where you can see whether a garment fits and also how well it suits you.

You may even take a friend or relative to give you their opinion. It is rarely necessary to return clothes bought in this way.

I suggest some of your younger readers try it. They might find it a pleasant experience, particularly if they treat themselves to coffee and cake afterwards. You cannot do that on the internet.

Janice Spencer
Whitley Bay, Northumberland

Teacher authority

SIR – Jackie Argent (Letters, May 25) writes: “Pupils are now in charge of the classroom. Don’t imagine that they are unaware of this.”

In 1967 I taught chemistry at a boys school. Early in the lesson, some pupils offered the opinion: “The subject matter of lessons should be decided democratically.”

I asked: “What is democracy?”

One boy answered: “One man one vote,” to which I responded: “That’s fine by me.”

One boy saw the trap. “No, it should be: one person one vote.”

That ended the discussion and I returned to my prepared lesson.

Stewart Reuben
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire

Women at Pratt’s

SIR – Whatever makes Lord Soames think that ladies will want to join Pratt’s (“Bond’s ‘gentleman’s club’ to admit women after 166 years”, report, May 26)?

Eating school food and sharing a single table with other members in a windowless basement are unlikely to be attractive.

Christopher Bellew
London W6

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