SIR – If Boris had made his a five-tier lockdown plan, would Nicola have made hers six?
NHS waiting lists
SIR – As politicians debate what to do about Covid-19 (report, October 22), we risk neglecting necessary NHS reform.
Any government hoping to manage the service must reduce its lengthening waiting lists and backlog of treatments. Spare capacity is not only needed for coronavirus cases but is also necessary for patients with common clinical conditions whose prompt treatment locally would help to reduce waiting lists.
If each area’s clinical needs were assessed, deficiencies such as low staffing and insufficient training, as well as bed shortages, and up-to-date equipment and premises, could be made good. Increased cost would be one of the disadvantages of a more devolved approach, but the building of whole new hospitals might cost more, they would be unlikely to come on stream for years and would also cover only parts of the UK. If there were shorter waiting lists any patient, whatever their age, would be more likely to consult their GP.
Dr Ramon Gardner
Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist
Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge
SIR – I am glad the Charity Commission has woken up (report, October 23) and is to look into the National Trust.
The Trust has strayed beyond its registered objectives and it deserves censure. Keeping historic buildings in shape is what it is for and why so many people leave money to it in their wills. Contentious issues such as historical slavery and modern-day racism are matters for political action groups, not causes to be espoused by charities.
SIR – I read that the National Trust is reducing costs and laying off staff due to coronavirus (report, October 9).
No doubt this has had an effect, but I suspect these actions are also driven by the large number of resignations it has received from members outraged by its attempts at political correctness.
Addingham, West Yorkshire
Hail the new year
SIR – I suggest this message (Letters, October 23) for Christmas cards: Felicium Temporum Reparatio.
It has been found engraved on buried Roman coins, and translates as “the restoration ofre-establishing happy times”.
Black Army officers
SIR – Lieutenant Euan Lucie-Smith (report, October 23) was not the first black officer in the British Army.
Surgeon majors J A B Horton and W B Davies were commissioned into the Army Medical Department in 1859 and served for more than 20 years in West Africa. Both were recruited in Sierra Leone, brought to England and educated at the Army’s expense at King’s College London.
The West India Regiment was raised in 1795 as part of the British Army and at least one of its officers, William Fergusson, was Afro-Caribbean. He became governor of Sierra Leone in 1857, the only man of African descent to hold that rank substantively.
Emeritus Defence Professor of Primary Care and General Practice
Chichester, West Sussex
SIR – Nathaniel Wells, born in 1779, was the second black officer to hold a commission in the British Army. In 1820 he served as a lieutenant in the Chepstow troop of Yeomanry (later the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars).
He was an illegitimate child of William Wells, a Cardiff merchant who owned plantations on St Kitts, and a slave woman. He was freed by his father aged four, christened and sent to England to be educated. When his father died in 1794 he inherited a large fortune (including 146 slaves) and purchased an estate at Piercefield, now the site of Chepstow Racecourse. He was also a magistrate, a deputy lieutenant and high sheriff of Monmouthshire.
He freed his mother and her children but otherwise continued to own the plantation and its slaves, and received a considerable sum in compensation when slavery was abolished in the British colonies. Some will say he was a conundrum, others that he was a product of his times.
Honorary Colonel Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
SIR – I think the Royal Navy beat the Army in the black officer stakes by about 140 years.
John Perkins joined the service in 1775 and was made commander in 1797. He became a post captain in 1800 and commanded the frigates HMS Arab (22 guns) and HMS Tartar (32).