Dear Editor, The offer by Aston Villa to carry the Acorns Hospice logo on the club's shirts next season is a marvellous gesture (Post, June 4); it creates a universal feeling of warmth.
Acorns currently cares for some 600 children but aspires, when funds permit, to reach another 1,000 children. This is an example of what a collection of committed doctors, nurses and other carers and volunteers can achieve.
Similarly, we all value the services of the Air Ambulance, who serve to the limits of their ability -they have aspirations but not targets. The same is true of most charities - they spend their money wisely, guided by personal commitment and ofter personal experience - within their limits.
What lessons are there for the NHS? No one can fault the amount of money allocated to the service. What is sad is that so much of it is wasted. The direction of travel is dictated by politicians who are in post until the next reshuffle; they obtain guidance from theorists who have never served in the front line or from public health doctors who have long since left the front line because it is not to their taste.
We have the recent fiasco where NHS dental care for almost a million people, many from low income families, has been lost - thanks to recent reforms. The next threat is to general practice countrywide with the introduction of polyclinics - based on advice from a high-tech surgeon working in the London area (Post, June 5). Would you employ a racing car designer to plan a new bus? "New money" will be used to build and equip the clinics - it might be better if this money was used to pay for more GPs.
Within the hospital service the most pernicious burden is Government "targets" - and the administrative empire that they necessitate. It is perhaps insufficiently recognised that most admissions to general hospitals are emergencies via ambulance services or following GP urgent home visits (general medicine 99 per cent, general surgery 69 per cent, truama and orthopaedics 65 per cent paediatrics 99 per cent) - the never appear on waiting lists.
The 1990s saw the introduction of conspicuous numbers of managers - "to improve effieciency". Their numbers have since increased to an absurd degree. Because of targets every activity is counted, timed and costed - even though it is very difficult to cost anything more than the most uncomplicated admission. The empahsis is on quanity not quality. Mangers badger clinicians to alter priorities because managers' jobs depend on compliance. Returns are falsified. The bean-counting is duplicated at great cost, at PCTs and upwards.
Give medicine back to the professionals and local communities - just as the police service with to reclain commonsense policing ("Police abandon misleading targets" (Post, June 5).
No doubt headmasters would have similar views on schooling. Morale and goodwill would rise.
Dr BARRIE SMITH
The views of Councillor John Lines
Dear Editor, Although I would have hoped Coun John Lines would have known better, and, as a Birmingham Cabinet Member, not expressed his thoughts on asylum seekers in the way described in Iron Angle, it's up to the rest of us to use our "right of free speech" to say that we are appalled.
Why it should take Iron Angle to make the point I'm unclear, but I'm very glad that The Birmingham Post has once more made a stand.
We were shocked and dismayed when a BNP candidate took her place on Birmingham City Council, even though it was by error, and delighted when she packed her bags. Many go out leafletting to stop racists and xenophoebics holding public office, let alone having Cabinet status, yet the Birmingham Tories appear to not care less. Does he represent their views? We need to know. Further more does he represent the Lib Dems who have also kept quiet this time round. I can't understand if LibDem voters acquiesce.
If national bodies supposed to maintain standards in public life and decency can't or won't act then there are local bodies. By the way John, if the name "Scumbag" sticks to you, you've only yourself to blame.
Should we sit and watch as Mugabe brutalises a nation?
Dear Editor, I simply can not believe that the world is going to sit around and watch as Robert Mugabe stays in power in Zimbabwe.
When the first round of election results came in, I honestly believed that Mugabe and his evil regime were on their way out.
Since then, I have watched the whole obscene charade play out as Mugabe, backed by his thuggish army, has perpetrated undisguised terrorism on his own people.
We removed Saddam Hussein for lesser crimes than this.
Mugabe seems to me to be the typical classroom bully, strutting around with a bunch of buddies who know which side the power lies.
South Africa needs to hang its head in shame.
The humanity of Nelson Mandela seems like a distant memory now.
If Mugabe can't be removed democratically, I can't imagine how he is to be removed now.
Sanctions seem to play right into his hands, giving him the excuse that Britain is starving his people. Morgan Tsvangirai did abrave thing in pulling out of the race for the presidency, although the crown is so obviously his.
The West's recent adventures in foreign policy have quite rightly brought us into disrepute.
The argument that the strategy for Iraq and the larger Middle East is inspired by oil is a valid one.
Zimbabwe and its neighbours obviously have no value to George Bush.
Britain, to its credit, has always taken a strong moral stance against crimes such as apartheid and the Church of England is also highly vocal in its condemnation of Mugabe's regime.
Yet, as we stand by and watch Tsvangirai's supporter's being raped, tortured and murdered, it seems that our compassion has run dry.
The people of Zimbabwe are peace-loving and reportedly have no stomach for revolution, giving Mugabe carte blanche to continue.
It must not be allowed to happen.