Thanks to NHS and hospital staff

Dear Editor,

We all give thanks to our NHS who all do a wonderful job, for everyone, and it's the envy of the world.

As previously stated, the Hampshire Court Hotel staff/volunteers have been exceptional with the vaccines.

We are so lucky to have a wonderful Basingstoke Hospital - our thanks must go to Alex Whitfield and her Board, but especially the doctors and nurses who deserve credit for their hard work always. There must be credit given to domestic and especially the cleaners who are never mentioned but are so important for hospitals, to function well.

Thank you for our Gazette giving us so much knowledge of our lovely area.

We always say with our friends we must remain positive for the future. We survived two world wars and will be stronger and positive again.

This is the best country to live in a lot of us belief.

Linda Pope, Europa Close, Bramley


Foreign travels pose a risk

Dear Editor,

Thanks to the NHS, the vaccination rollout is a remarkable British achievement that echoes across the world. Even more impressive when you see how the vaccination centres work.

It’s everyone’s moral duty to take up the offer of the Covid-19 vaccine. Until everyone is vaccinated no one will be safe from Coronavirus. If people can’t get infected, they can’t pass it on to others. Sadly, many died before they could be offered the Covid-19 vaccine or because they were unable to take up the vaccine due to health issues.

Until all adults in the UK are vaccinated twice, foreign travel poses a risk as countries like France, Germany and Belgium are lagging behind vaccinating their own citizens.

We need to learn to live with the threat that Coronavirus is here to stay and we should not get ahead of ourselves as lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted and derail all the efforts and sacrifices made to control the virus. We owe it to the many who didn’t make it.

Jeannette Schael, Tadley


Concerned about AstraZenica

Dear Editor,

I am extremely concerned about the safety of those of us who have had to be given the Astra Zenica vaccine, even though it has been found to be less effective than the Pfizer vaccine and to be almost ineffective in giving any protection against the South African variant. I feel that this is particularly concerning as regards people such as myself and my husband, who are elderly and clinically vulnerable.

I realise that, due to the health crisis in England, vaccines needed to be rolled out as quickly as possible. However it seems extremely unfair and immoral that many of us should have had to sacrifice the safety of our own health, and possibly lives, in order to facilitate this, especially when, if the government had acted on the advice if its medical advisers in the first place the crisis could have been avoided.

I feel that the government now has a moral obligation to rectify the matter and help those of us who are insufficiently protected as described above. As I see it at the moment, when current restrictions are lifted, unless the Government acts quickly to rectify the matter, people like ourselves will still be vulnerable and exposed to possible serious illness and/or death from Covid. 

Penny Stevenson, Basingstoke


1% offer for NHS staff is derisory

Dear Editor, 

Earlier this year I received a 1% pay rise. I work in Tech. It's below inflation, but I was quite happy to receive it, given the stresses on the economy and how many people are out of work or on furlough.

Last Friday I received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. I have nothing but praise for the volunteers, the NHS staff, and the armed forces personnel who have made our sensational progress in vaccinating Britain possible. I'd also like to thank the scientists at Oxford for developing the vaccine, AstraZeneca for bringing it to mass production/working out the supply chains, and in the civil service, headed by Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor, for planning the vaccine program itself. 

But I can't thank the Government, even though it is taking all the credit for it, and enjoying a boost in the polls. The NHS has been through the worst year in its history. It has come close to breaking point, as have many of its staff, many hundreds of whom have died nationwide. 

We have seen the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary issue effusive praise for our health workers, supporting initiatives such as "clap for the NHS". But I and my colleagues, and the health unions, have always argued that clapping on the doorstep was a meaningless gesture without a decent pay rise. 

The Government has failed to put its money where its mouth is: the 1% offer is derisory, and an insult to our doctors and nurses who have kept us alive. It also breaks the word of the Tory MP's who voted through a 2.1% increase for NHS workers back in 2019. 

Tech firms pay substantial bonuses to their staff when they have delivered spectacular results, as is the case with many private firms, not least the city financial firms this Government is so friendly with. 

There are other incentives, including market adjustment pay rises, to aid retention of key staff. If the NHS staff were working for a private firm, and worked as hard as they have, they could expect bonuses of many thousands AND an above-inflation pay rise with a performance component. 

If I ran a firm with staff that worked this hard, or if I was in charge of the NHS, I would be looking at giving them a much bigger pay rise than 1%, and a bonus of up to £10,000 per head. 

But the Government has no such plans. "There is no money". If we paid each and every one of our 1.2 million NHS staff an extra £10,000 this year, it would cost the Treasury £12 billion (although they would get some of that back in tax and NI). 

That's not an unreasonable sum to reward our frontline workers who have helped get us through our worst crisis in 80 years, and we spent around £2 trillion in today's prices on the previous crisis, World War 2. 

And it's substantially less than the £36bn they wasted on the failed Test, Track and Trace program. Are they going to get that money back? Have they even attempted to do so? 

With staff at breaking point, and an indifferent Government basking in the glory of their achievements, spouting weasel words while giving them an effective pay cut after inflation, there is the very real prospect of a lot of staff leaving. Many are close to retirement age and may decide to go a few years early. 

There is also the prospect of strike action. In a pandemic. Clearly, the Government either hasn't accounted for this, or simply doesn't care. 

I will therefore be joining Unison on Thursday, March 11 and Thursday, April 1 for a "slow hand clap" in protest at the Government's 1% pay rise for our NHS heroes, and in tribute to them. I urge members of the public to do the same, and to send the Government a message at the ballot box on 6th May. 

Cllr Andrew McCormick, Labour, Brighton Hill South


Raise funds for local nursing staff

Dear Editor,

Since most of us are disappointed with the 1 per cent offer to the NHS staff who helped us all through Covid, would it be possible to raise a local sponsored fund raising to perhaps get all the local nursing staff a one-off bonus – £500 with sufficient support from local companies/residents? This was possibly the way the government should have gone. 

Ian Laming, Basingstoke


Getting second class service

Dear Editor,  

This letter is addressed to the Waste Management at Hart and General Enquires at Serco.

I expect no more or less than any other resident of the Basingstoke and Deane District for the residents of Manor Lane, Old Basing, RG24 7DG. The dustbins are collected from each property and emptied, then returned to the same property from which they were taken. 

That sounds simple enough. What the bin-men do is collect the bins into batches, back the lorry to the bins, empty them, then drive away leaving them where they emptied them, please see the attached pictures, the residents then have to complete the bin-men’s job and retrieve their own bins.

Please correct me if I have got this wrong, but if a resident infringes the rules laid down by the Council, the bin-men can refuse to empty a bin or even impose a fine if rules are broken. 

If that is so, how can the Council authorise workers who blatantly refuse to do their own job properly to be in a position to penalise rate paying resident of the Basingstoke and Deane District?   

After numerous communications with the Council on this very subject, it is high time that the Council enforced the contract with Serco, and Serco enforced the rules with their employees; at the moment we are paying our rates and getting second class service from the bin-men.

Rex Hilson Old Basing


Change in BDBC rules is a concern

Dear Editor,

Will backland developments now be approved simply with retrospective planning applications? 

B&DBC has determined that a new-build brick-built detached single storey dwelling in a rear garden of a property wasn't erected under Permitted Development and now requires approval of a retrospective planning application to regulate it. 

The Council's website states a request for a retrospective planning application be submitted if they "feel it is likely permission may be granted". It should be of concern to our LPA if builders are erecting such dwellings without planning consent and developments are then approved in this way. 

Simon Preedy,  Cyprus Road, Hatch Warren