YOUR letters to the Advertiser this week include thoughts on education, health, Red Nose Day, Brexit and more.

To have your say on any local issue, email your views to Please keep your letters as brief and to-the-point as you can, and remember to add your name and address.

We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published. Happy writing!

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Councillor Redman needs to stop telling us what to think and mind his Islay store (Advertiser Comment, March 7).

The excessive expansion of higher education in Scotland was the work of Tony Blair, the natural heir to Margaret Thatcher. The result is a Scotland where a third of the potential work force are in government service, a third are in higher education and a third are doing productive work to support the two thirds who are idle or underemployed.

With reference to other letters in last week’s issue, Alzheimer Scotland need to explain why they are spending money on a shop front on West Princes Street in Helensburgh that is seldom open. 

We have little understanding of the workings of the human mind or the causes of dementia. Human compassion should dictate adequate support for those suffering from the disease and in particular those family members who act as carers.

What has golf got to do with Parkinson’s Disease? In recent months, both Alzheimer Scotland and the Parkinson Society have had front page coverage of ‘medical advances’ in the field in the national press. This is bad science and raises false hopes that a cure is imminent.

In the summer of 2017, my behaviour was judged to be outside the norm for a 77-year-old male. To make me “normal”, I was detained in Katrine Ward in the Vale of Leven Hospital and injected with Haldol, a powerful anti-psychotic drug. 

Any drug has side effects. Haldol acts by targeting the same part of the brain effected by Parkinson’s disease. I developed some of the same symptoms including jerky gait. This is witchcraft masquerading as medicine. 

Eventually, I was declared ‘cured’ and released into society. Our ignorance of mental health is profound. It is not influenced by declarations by Theresa May that mental health is now on a par with physical health. This political miracle was accomplished without the spending of any additional funds.

While there is natural focus on the leading edge of science in medicine, most problems in our hospitals are from neglect of basic hygiene. The 35 deaths in the Vale of Leven from C-Diff were the result of basic failures. £10 million was wasted on a report that told us nothing we did not already know.

John Black
Beau Vallon, The Seychelles

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I WOULD love to see Argyll and Bute Council playing their part in Red Nose Day 2019,

How about a lovely big shiny, and possibly illuminated, red nose on the female figurine which decorates the front wall of the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre?

It would certainly be eye catching and surely would draw attention to a worthy cause in our town!

Alex Winter
Via email

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Scottish Labour has, once again, descended into civil war.

The increasingly far left Scottish Labour party has declared yet another civil war on itself after former leader, Kezia Dugdale, slammed her successor, Richard Leonard’s, attempts to side-line MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler at the party’s annual conference. 

Dugdale’s intervention led one senior party figure to claim the Lothian MSP was trying to leave the party.

How can anyone trust Scottish Labour to fight the SNP when they’re only interested in fighting each other?

Even when they are not at war with themselves they have always been too weak and lack both the strength and stomach to take on the separatists.

It’s a clear choice between Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives or Nicola Sturgeon’s failing and Indyref 2 obsessed SNP.

Cllr Alastair Redman
(Conservative, Kintyre and the Islands)

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Last December, the government announced plans for a new immigration system post-Brexit. 

That included proposals for a new salary threshold, which has been recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee to be set at £30,000. This means that if you’re a migrant wanting to come to the UK, you would have to earn at least that amount to be able to do so.

The £30,000 threshold already applies to non-EU citizens so the changes would bring EU citizens in line with them. They are not due to come in until 2021.

But extending the £30,000 threshold to EU citizens is going to be particularly damaging for Scotland. New CBI analysis shows this. Here’s why.

Firstly, more than two-thirds of jobs in Scotland earn less than the threshold. The overwhelming majority of jobs in hospitality for example – 94 per cent – don’t come close to that figure. Meanwhile, in manufacturing, it’s more than three in five jobs which don’t earn £30,000.

Social care organisations will face particular challenges with this threshold. The average care salary in Scotland is £18,000. Only ten per cent earn £25,000 and no-one earns above £30,000.

Cutbacks and pressures on organisational funding means there is little chance of salaries being raised to meet the threshold. This could mean severe staffing shortages and a quick need to train people up.

Certain areas of Scotland will also lose out. A total of 49.5 per cent of jobs in East Renfrewshire earn less than £30,000. That falls to just 16 per cent in Na h-Eileanan Siar. In remote rural areas, the average salary is £27,000. That means regionally, fewer migrants will be able to migrate to those areas lowering the talent pool available.

Secondly, the threshold is likely to create a greater gender disparity in Scotland. Less than a third of women in each Scottish local authority earns more than £30,000. It means fewer migrant women will be incentivised to come to the UK because they won’t be able to meet the threshold.

Thirdly, the threshold is likely to create an age disparity in Scotland. Most people who are earning more than £30,000 are in their 30-40s, with only 25 per cent of people aged 22-29 taking home this figure. 

There are further concerns that the transitional period foreseen after Brexit would only exacerbate more younger migrants to return home. 

This is because they have no clear route to settlement and cannot rely on the welfare state if they need it.

It’s clear then that the £30,000 threshold will be bad for Scotland.

Jack Gevertz
Immigration Advice Service

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New research announced this week at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference has revealed shocking health inequalities between people with Type 1 diabetes, depending on where they live.

Diabetes UK-funded researchers, led by Professor Helen Colhoun at the University of Edinburgh, analysed health records for all people with Type 1 diabetes in Scotland (totalling more than 30,000) from the SCI-Diabetes - one of the most extensive health databases for diabetes anywhere in the world.

They looked at trends over a 12-year period (2004 to 2016) and explored whether there were any differences in blood glucose, also called blood sugar, control between different ages, social groups and gender.They found that people with Type 1 diabetes living in the most deprived areas of Scotland had higher blood glucose levels than people from the least deprived areas (on average HbA1c was 7.78mmol/mol higher in most deprived areas than least deprived areas).

Type 1 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where the body can’t make insulin. It’s not caused by diet, lifestyle or weight. Without careful management blood glucose levels can become too high and, over time, high levels of glucose in the blood can seriously damage blood vessels, leading to complications like blindness, amputations and heart disease.

While everyone with diabetes should have an individual target for their own HbA1c, we know a HbA1c of a 48mmol/mol or below reduces the risk of developing complications. It is therefore important for people with Type 1 diabetes to have safe blood glucose levels.

Alongside this, social deprivation is strongly linked to higher levels of physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking and poor blood pressure control, all of which can further increase the risk of developing the serious complications of Type 1 diabetes.

The research found that people with Type 1 diabetes living in more deprived areas of Scotland consistently had higher levels of blood glucose than those in less deprived areas. This underlines the need for policies to tackle these inequalities since they lead to higher rates of diabetes complications.

Achieving safe blood glucose control is complex. In the future it will be important to assess whether recent policies widening the provision of insulin pumps and flash monitors for those with Type 1 diabetes impact these inequalities.”

We must make sure that appropriate, high quality care and information is available for everyone with Type 1 diabetes, whoever they are and wherever they live.

This research gives us crucial insights into how, and some indicators as to why, blood glucose control varies across different people with Type 1 diabetes. 

This vital evidence helps to identify where support is most needed, so we can help everyone to live well with their Type 1 diabetes.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson
Director of research, Diabetes UK