LAST week I attended the public meeting in Alexandria over the proposed cuts to the GP out of hours service at the Vale Hospital.

It was a well attended meeting and it was clear that the main worry of the doctors present was for their patients’ health and how this was being put at risk with these latest closures.

One of my biggest concerns is that these worries are falling onto deaf ears.

The SNP councillors, who have recently been voted in to represent us locally at the Health and Social Care Partnership and on the Health Board, didn’t bother to turn up. This is a surprise, considering that they campaigned on protecting services at the Vale Hospital, saying that they would be our voice in the fight to save our hospital.

My question to them is, how can you be our voice when you can’t even be bothered to come and listen to our concerns?

The biggest disappointment is that at a previous meeting in the Concord Ce Centre, Jonathan McColl stated that he would hold the Board and Health Secretary to account over cuts at the Vale.

By not bothering to turn up to the Vale meeting his actions have spoken louder than his empty words and shown he isn’t listening to the people he claims to represent.

Alistair Lang, Dumbarton.

IT is more than a little ironic that as Scotland, through being part of the UK, prepares to leave the European Union, Estonia, with a population around a quarter that of Scotland, will take over the EU Presidency on 1st July.

The presidency is responsible for driving forward the EU’s work, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly legislative processes and cooperation among member states.

During the next six months this will focus on key areas, including single and digital markets, the energy union and closer integration of Eastern partners into Europe. It also wants to focus on the promotion of e-solutions and the information society in EU policy areas. Interestingly its prime minister, Jüri Ratas, has declared that Brexit is not a priority for the Presidency, a sign that the EU is moving on from Brexit, with bigger issues to deal with.

Estonia, which next year will celebrate its centenary of becoming independent, takes over from Malta in holding the presidency of European Union, an island with a population less than that of Edinburgh.

During the independence referendum, the Better Together camp claimed that the only way to guarantee Scotland’s place in the EU was to vote to remain in the UK. Indeed, Scotland was to “lead the UK” not “leave the UK.”

Times have indeed changed since September 2014 and we are, despite these assurances, heading for the EU exits.

Of course, we could have the best of both worlds, part of a single market with the rest of the UK - as promised to Northern Ireland in its relations with the Republic of Ireland - and still members of the EU.

For that to happen of course requires the confidence, as Malta and Estonia have demonstrated, to take full control of our own affairs and be the masters of our own destiny, leading not leaving the EU.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

IF you want to stand out from the fashion crowd, improve your sewing skills or just want a fun way to raise money for charity, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has the perfect solution.

I’m calling on all keen and novice sewers to take part in The Big Stitch this July by heading to your nearest BHF shop, buying an item and injecting your own fashion flair to it by practicing sewing and dressmaking skills.

Every item bought and re-vamped throughout July will bring us one step closer to ending the devastation caused by heart disease.

Every year, heart and circulatory disease kills around 15,500 in Scotland and currently, 670,000 people in the country are living with its burden so the need to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat these terrible conditions is more urgent than ever.

What’s more, if you post your ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture on social media throughout July, tagging the BHF on Twitter, Instagram or on the BHF’s Facebook page and using the hashtag #TheBigStitch, you will be in with a chance of winning a Special Night Out at a London West End show with YouTube sensation, Just Jodes for you and a friend.

With around 750 BHF shops nationwide, join thousands of style seekers across the UK, all while learning invaluable skills and helping the BHF fund life saving research into heart disease.

For more information on The Big Stitch and to find your nearest BHF shop visit

Paul Loughran, Area Manager at the British Heart Foundation.

THE school summer holiday is a time children look forward to all year; a time for them to relax, enjoy the outdoors and get stuck into their favourite hobbies.

It’s easy to see how routines can go out of the window once summer hits, which is why Asthma UK are launching a campaign urging parents to maintain their child’s usual preventer medicine routine over the school break.

This will help to protect their child from an asthma attack both during the summer holiday and once they go back to school.

Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK, and three people die from an asthma attack every day.

In September, children are nearly three times more likely to be admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack than in August, partly due to seasonal triggers such as cold and flu viruses.

If a child hasn’t kept up their preventer medicine routine over the school holidays, they will be at greater risk of reacting to these triggers.

The good news is that by taking a few simple steps over the summer holiday, parents can keep children as well as possible and reduce the risk of this happening:

Keep up your child’s usual preventer medicine routine (usually a brown inhaler)

Make sure your child has an up to date written asthma action plan and share this with any other carers; people with asthma are four times more likely to end up in hospital for their asthma if they don’t use one

Track your child’s asthma symptoms using a diary or a symptom calendar

Prep for going back to school by arranging an asthma review to check your child’s medicines, and make sure your child has spare, in-date reliever inhalers to take into school.

Parents who have any concerns about their child’s asthma can speak to our team of expert nurses by calling the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm), and can download a child’s asthma action plan by visiting

Sonia Munde, head of helpline and Nurse Manager at Asthma UK

AT a time when most are heading home after a day in the hills, some walkers can be seen getting out of their cars and heading upwards into the summer twilight, only to return in the morning, tired but happy after a sleepless night on the tops.

Indeed, there’s a tradition amongst many hill walkers of climbing a hill with a view through the night just to catch the glories of a midsummer sunrise. Some will take time off midweek, while others settle for the weekend before or after, but the spectacle can be a marvellous one whichever date is chosen – assuming Scotland’s notoriously fickle weather plays ball!

Alan Rowan, the ‘Midnight Mountaineer’, has teamed up with Mountaineering Scotland to offer some advice to walkers contemplating the midsummer nightshift, when the hours of actual darkness are very short.

Five tips on Midnight Mountaineering

1 Around midsummer, twilight levels can last for most of the night. Pick warm, settled, clear weather to take advantage of this. Avoid nights of low cloud, wind or rain. Apart from safety issues, this is meant to be fun!

2 Dress well. It may be midsummer, the days may be hot, but on a cloudless night in the mountains the temperature can drop considerably, so make sure you have plenty of warm clothes – and waterproofs.

3 Don’t go alone. There is safety in numbers as well as comfort – the quiet stillness, interspersed with the sounds of night on a mountain, increase the feeling of solitude and can be unnerving at first.

4 It may seem obvious but even at midsummer there will be a couple of hours when you really need some extra illumination. So take a torch. In fact take two, so that you have a spare in an emergency.

5 Stick to the path. You might see what looks like a shortcut, but even well-made paths can be hard to find again in the dark once you’ve stepped off them.

Read more about night-time hill walking on the Mountaineering Scotland website, at

Read about the adventures of author and ‘Midnight Mountaineer’ Alan Rowan at

Neil Reid, Mountaineering Scotland