Waste of money

PUBLISHED: 11:13 30 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:17 06 May 2010

Sorry, someone correct me if I am wrong, but didn t Barbara Follett tell us four or five weeks ago that If QEII or The Lister were to shut, she would camp outside the Secretary of State s Office with a flask of coffee and a pack of sandwiches? This old he

Sorry, someone correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Barbara Follett tell us four or five weeks ago that If QEII or The Lister were to shut, she would camp outside the Secretary of State's Office with a flask of coffee and a pack of sandwiches? This old head of mine is not what it was, but I am sure I was not the only person to read something like that in The Comet a few weeks ago.

Now, we learn from Mrs Follett that without a £80-90,000 per year Director of Communications for NHS East of England Strategic Health Authority, we could get the kind of scare stories which have been appearing in our local press recently.

Gosh, and there was I, thinking that Mrs Follett believed the same scare stories at the time. How terrible for The Comet readers to frighten Mrs Follett so much, I hope you all feel ashamed of yourselves in Bank House.

It is not immediately clear what the scare stories were supposed to scare us all into doing. Mrs Follett of course, was almost scared into inhabiting a tent in a draughty London street. I was scared into looking vaguely for a herbal remedy for rheumatism which I lost amongst my papers, but gave up after a couple of minutes, God, I was scared.

Tell you what, why don't we reduce the proposed salary for the proposed SHA Director of Communications to say £58,735 and pay for it in the form of that puerile piece of yellow material outside Primark? That way Mrs Follett doe not have to spend quite as much of her time defending the indefensible; the new Director of Communications can get in some much needed and exciting hand gliding practice and Stevenage can get rid of yet another undignified eyesore, everyone wins!

PAUL SOUTHWOOD, Canterbury Way, Stevenage

* The fact that a health authority is willing to spend £80K plus of taxpayers' money on a 'director of communications' speaks volumes about the state of the NHS. If our health service were in reasonably good shape, an information or press officer on more modest pay could fulfil Barbara Follett's wish for "good, clear communication between the regional health service and the public".

Rival MP Oliver Heald is nearer the mark. That £80K-plus salary is needed to attract a highly skilled manipulator (or suppresser) of information. The type of information that, according to Mrs Follett, causes scare stories, like MRSA and cancellation of hospital operations because of unsterilised equipment.

While on the subject of the NHS, it should be noted that almost half of last year's £5.5bn increase in health spending went on pay rises, with a mere nine per cent being used to hire more staff.

The man ultimately responsible for authorising the NHS spending spree, who is now imposing cut-backs and bringing in 'external consultants' at a cost of £133m to try and sort out the chaotic state of hospital finances, is Gordon ('Mr Prudence') Brown. Heaven help us.

CHRIS PHILLIPS, Boswell Gardens, Stevenage

Figures are from the Department of Health, quoted by the Financial Times, November 23.

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