If dentists can continue to operate during a pandemic, why not GPs?

SIR – At the height of the Covid pandemic I visited my dentist to have

SIR – At the height of the Covid pandemic I visited my dentist to have five tooth implants fitted.

At one of the sessions and wearing full protective gear, he practically disappeared down my throat to fit the necessary screws into my jawbone. He reappeared after about two hours, completely unscathed. I, too, came through the experience without any infection and reasonably comfortably.

Meanwhile, I am unable to make any contact with my GP, who is hiding behind a receptionist and a telephone system that does not even allow me to have a long-distance conversation with him.

Shame on them, their excuses and their timidity.

Sydney Smith


SIR – While there may be a role for telephone or virtual GP appointments, this cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. It is lazy medicine and does a huge disservice to patients. In medical school we were taught that in order to assess and diagnose a patient’s condition a tripod approach was required: history-taking, physical examination and investigation. Remove one leg of the tripod and it will fall down.

By removing the ability of patients to see a doctor or nurse, one is removing a central tenet of accepted good medical practice. The effects of this new NHS ideology will be seen when excess complications, mortality and litigation become apparent.

Matthew Trotter FRCS
Rowney Green, Worcestershire


SIR – I feel that the fact being overlooked in the discussion over continuity of care is that GPs are the people patients have to go to in order to get referred to a consultant.

I have been trying for nearly six months to get a referral and have been fobbed off by my GPs. It has been taking three weeks to get a telephone appointment with a GP; then one has to go through the whole rigmarole of X-rays, then the three weeks to get another telephone appointment with a GP to discuss X-ray results and then another to discuss physio results.

I now have an appointment for this week, and, as this was a telephone appointment when booked, I had to ring and ask for it to be changed to face to face. It has been changed to face to face – but I had to wait for 37 minutes for the phone to be connected to a receptionist. GPs have been the problem throughout.

Carol White
Northwold, Norfolk


SIR – The stance of the British Medical Association (report, May 21) is that the “needs of the profession” should be pre-eminent.

This continues to promote the concept of an outdated model of care where the patients were subservient to the medical profession. As taxpayers, we are the customers, and the medical professionals in primary care are there to meet our needs, not vice versa.

Marion Ansell
Tonbridge, Kent


Israeli territory

SIR – The report “Ireland attacks Israel’s ‘de facto annexation’ of Palestinian land” (May 27) is, of course, quite correct in stating that most countries view settlements Israel has built in territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal.

What is almost never taken into account is that in 1948 Jordanian forces attacked the newly born Jewish state and seized the West Bank and east Jerusalem. In 1950 Jordan annexed them – a move not recognised by the UN or the Arab League, nor by any countries except Britain and Pakistan. When in 1967 Israel succeeded in regaining control of them, it would have been logical for the UN – and most countries – to applaud Israel for liberating illegally acquired territories. They did not seem to see it that way.

Neville Teller
Beit Shemesh, Israel


Scrap the TV licence

SIR – I do not watch sport or television at all. My Amazon Prime subscription is considerably less than the licence fee. Amazon makes superb dramas (with no adverts), which are of the same standard as the BBC. So why do I need an expensive television licence?

I think it’s time the BBC became a commercially run company with a board who have business experience in the global market.

Belinda Stevens-Fairchild
Moretonhampstead, Devon


SIR  – Alternatives to the licence fee have been looked at in the past and all have been shown to have significant drawbacks. In March, the DCMS Select Committee looked at funding models for public service broadcasting and concluded that none of them were “sufficiently attractive to justify recommending for the next Charter period”.

William Hern
Maidenhead, Berkshire


PMs marrying

SIR – Boris Johnson is the fourth prime minister to marry while in office, not the third (report, May 25).

Shortly after the death of his first wife in 1737, Robert Walpole married his long-term mistress; she died three months later in childbirth. The little-known third Duke of Grafton, a man noted for his “idleness and pursuit of pleasure”, began a long and happy second marriage in 1769 during his two-year premiership. In 1822, the uxorious (but virtually friendless) Lord Liverpool filled the void in his life created by the death of his first wife by marrying her best friend.

Mr Johnson is only the second prime minister both to divorce and remarry while at No 10. When Grafton’s first wife was about to give birth to another man’s child in 1769, the marriage was dissolved by Act of Parliament, the only way divorce could at that time be obtained. Spurning the scandalous mistress with whom he had lived openly for years (they were alleged to have had sex in an opera box), Grafton persuaded the virtuous daughter of the Dean of Worcester to become his new wife. They had nine children.

Lord Lexden
London SW1


The matter with meat

SIR – Claire Finney (“I’ve given up being a vegetarian – to save the planet”, Features, May 25) writes an article with valid points. But the main issue for many vegetarians and vegans is simply the slaughter process. I dare say many would be happy to eat meat again if it wasn’t for the end point in the animals’ lives.

No matter how humane we are told the process is, there is undoubtedly great suffering. How can it be avoided when so many animals have to go through it to feed so many of us?

Carol Burke
Oswestry, Shropshire

Assisted dying for those with terminal illnesses

SIR – Baroness Campbell has been a brave and effective fighter for disability rights for many years, but in opposing assisted dying, she is wrong to lump terminal illness with disability. They are completely separate issues, and the law presented to the House of Lords last Wednesday has nothing to do with disability, and everything to do with allowing people who are actually dying to have a good death.

Palliative care is wonderful, and of course we need more of it, but it is naive to think that it can treat everything, including the intense distress caused by complete dependence, incontinence and a miserably drawn-out end game.

I spent time recently by the bedside of someone dying of an inoperable cancer. The one thing he desires is to have control over his inevitable end. Baroness Campbell wishes to deny him that right.

Dr Tim Howard
Wimborne, Dorset


SIR – Suicide has no medical pathway, and is often driven by depression and despair. The act itself is lonely, often violent and destructive, and leaves family and friends a legacy of guilt.

By contrast, an assisted death is voluntary and safeguarded. The death is peaceful, and can be accompanied by friends and family. Grief can be mitigated. It is the antithesis of suicide.

The choice of assisted dying is the one of the last great human rights still to be won. It’s time to change our law for the better.

Michael Murray
Matlock, Derbyshire

Student panels

SIR – I am a teacher of modern foreign languages with an Ofsted rating of “outstanding” and a good track record.

After a recent school tour, I applied to a nearby state school with an Ofsted rating of “requires improvement”. When I received the interview schedule, I was staggered to find that a student panel was part of the process.

These panels use students of all ages and have been known to ask prospective teachers to “Sing your favourite song” or “Tell us a joke”, as well as asking: “Why are you working as a supply teacher?”

Some schools have been known to use their worst-behaved students on these panels as proof of the “value of their voice”, in the hope of improving their attitude. To date I have only had interviews in independent schools and state schools that were classed as “outstanding” or “good”; none used a student panel.

I have since withdrawn my application.

Rosamund Dal-Molin
Corton, Suffolk


Fair skies are ahead for makers of barometers

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