Recorder letters: NHS and Queen's Hospital, Retailery, economy expansion, parking fees, respect for shopworkers and social care system.

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 December 2018

Queen's Hospital, flagship hospital of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Queen's Hospital, flagship hospital of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.


Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Queen’s Hospital and staff show how lucky we are

David Horne, Cedar Road, Romford, writes:

On the morning of December 15 we called on my wife’s mother, who had been complaining of severe abdominal pains.

Thinking it just constipation we probably didn’t treat it as the emergency it proved to be and just contacted 111.

They eventually sent an on call doctor round who quickly arranged for an ambulance to collect my mother-in-law.

Two lovely paramedics helped her into the ambulance which sped her off to Queen’s Hospital.

As we waited to be processed she rapidly deteriorated and one of the A&E doctors immediately had her moved to the resuscitation ward, where her condition stabilised. One of the paramedics kindly returned a little later to check on her condition.

She was quickly given a range of tests and scans which led to the conclusion that she needed an emergency operation.

Space was immediately made available in the operating theatre and we were briefed by the surgeon. His genuine concern and tactful manner was tempered by his frank assessment of her condition, which he advised was likely to be problematic for a lady of 86.

Alas my poor mother-in-law passed away during the post operative care.

The family’s loss however was eased considerably by the professionalism and genuine concern exhibited by all of the medical staff encountered. At a time of great personal grief we have to express our gratitude to all concerned for their support and professionalism.

At a time when the NHS is under fire, Queen’s Hospital and its staff proved how lucky we are in this country.

One footnote to this story worthy of mention, every single member of staff encountered above was a person of colour.

It just highlights how incredibly lucky we are to have so many people of immigrant lineage holding together our NHS and enriching our society.

Thank you to you all.

Retailery important for local business

Andrew Curtin, Meadway, Romford, writes:

An important part of the work done at The Retailery in Romford seems to be being overlooked in debate over the future of the building.

Upstairs in the facility is business incubator space, where people (especially young people) can set up their own business and get them established, before moving on to other more expensive accommodation later on.

This space is particularly suitable for people beginning their work in the creative, digital and service sectors.

This seems important for a number of reasons.

Firstly it seems important as a way of ensuring a wide range of work opportunities across all sectors and skill ranges for Havering young people in the borough.

It is an important part of a coherent policy for local young people in the constantly changing environment of the modern world.

Secondly it is important for Romford.

As shopping habits change it will be important for the town to have a wide range of distinctive local businesses if it is to survive in the future.

What better way of doing that than through “home-grown” talent nurtured by this distinctive enterprise.

That is important for the borough as a whole as, like it or loathe it, so much employment in Havering is dependent on the continued success of Romford, whether in supply chains for it or working here.

Finally, it seems to me that it is important that this work is carried out by a local organisation, as the Community Interest Company which runs The Retailery is, if it is to play a particular part in ensuring the distinctive character of the town and the borough in the future.

I note that Cllr Damian White argues in the Recorder’s letters page on December 14 that the council cannot grant rate relief to continue this work because “the council is facing a budget gap of almost £38million”.

He is conflating two unrelated things here.

Funding for such rate relief comes from an amount of money granted by the government to the local authority specifically for that purpose.

The council could not transfer that grant to fund directly provided council services or help close the local authority’s reported budget gap in any event.

It can only use it to grant rate relief.

Expanding economy can make us poorer

Mr W Ramsay, Stephen Avenue, Rainham, writes:

Eamonn Mahon writes that a hard Brexit will make us poorer because the economy will contract, but you can become poorer with an expanding one, just as you can have a bigger cake but smaller pieces because of the number having to be taken out of it.

EU membership, or rather its injudicious expansion, has proved that this can happen, which is why there was a vote for Brexit.

Raise council tax not parking fees

Cllr David Durant, Rainham and Wennington Independent Residents Group, writes:

A few years ago the council decided to progress a Newham style parking regime to boost income and have extended parking charges throughout the borough, raising the minimum from 20p to £1.50 and have zealously enforced moving traffic offences, with 120,000 PCNs issued in the last 12 months (Rec 30/11).

The council’s new parking strategy proposes raising minimum tariffs to £2 per hour and then £2.50, £3.50 etc for every subsequent hour.

The new strategy also proposes reducing the 30 minutes free parking to 20 mins in Hornchurch, Upminster and Elm Park shopping centres and by Hornchurch station.

This will cost £55,000 to implement but is forecast to generate a additional income of £1.2m.

Except it won’t, as the reason 30 minutes was introduced, was because the government made 20 minutes compulsory, but with a 10 minute ‘return to car’ grace period ie the statutory free period is 20 + 10 minutes, so to avoid confusion and fights the council made it 30 minutes.

Hence the change will only raise additional income if people are unaware of the 10 minutes grace period and still park, as opposed to go elsewhere!

I appreciate the council needs to boost income to offset reductions in government grant funding, but it would be far fairer to come clean and raise council tax, with discounts for vulnerable residents, rather than promote an iniquitous parking and enforcement strategy that leads to punitive PCNs and deserted shopping centres outside Romford in Resident Association held areas.

Keep your cool when shopping

Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), writes:

I would like to wish your readers a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. For many this is always an exciting time, but we know it can be frantic trying to get everything ready for the big day.

I want to gently remind your readers to remember that shopworkers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

A recent Usdaw survey shows that every minute of every day another shopworker is verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked. Shopworkers tell us that incidents are more frequent throughout the Christmas and New Year period when shops are busier, customers can be stressed and are more likely to take out their frustration on staff.

Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.

That is why Usdaw, the shopworkers’ union, is running a Respect for Shopworkers campaign, asking customers to “Keep your Cool at Christmas”.

It’s a simple message, but remembering that shopworkers are working extra hard at this time and treating them with respect will mean that everyone can have a happier Christmas.

With seasons greetings.

Help us to Fix Dementia Care

Linda O’Sullivan, head of London Region, Alzheimer’s Society, writes:

The story at the heart of a new BBC One prime-time drama, Care, which aired Sunday evening at 9pm, is too often the stark reality for countless people at the mercy of a broken social care system.

The powerful drama follows single mother Jenny (Sheridan Smith), suddenly thrown into caring for her mother who develops dementia after a stroke, alongside her children, and holding down a job.

The storyline lays bare what is a very stark reality for many people - so called sandwich carers - as Jenny fights to navigate the system to access vital care for her mother, played by Alison Steadman.

The programme highlights the difficulty of accessing NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) for people with dementia.

The adult care package is arranged and funded solely by the NHS.

This can be a lifeline, but because funding support is awarded depending on whether a person’s primary need is a health need, and dementia is classed as a social care need, NHS CHC is very hard for people affected by dementia to access.

Alzheimer’s Society has heard of people with dementia being denied NHS CHC even when they are at the last stages of their life, unable to eat, drink or move and has repeatedly called for the NHS CHC to reform.

Two thirds of people using homecare and 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia, so the social care crisis is a dementia crisis.

There are 72,000 people living with dementia in London - it’s our biggest health and care challenge and unless the government takes urgent action, the system will completely collapse, abandoning people who are already desperate.

To Fix Dementia Care, the cost of extra care charges must be covered by the state with a Dementia Fund, all health and social care workers must be given the training they need to deliver quality dementia care and everyone with dementia should have a care navigator to ensure timely, preventative and integrated support.

Unite with us to make change happen. Join the Fix Dementia Care campaign.

Head to or call 0300 222 11 22 for more information.

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