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READERS' VIEWS: Your letters to the Bury Free Press of Friday, July 20

By Newsdesk Bury

Matt Hancock visited University College London Hospital on Tuesday after being appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on Monday. Picture: @MattHancock (3016701)
Matt Hancock visited University College London Hospital on Tuesday after being appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on Monday. Picture: @MattHancock (3016701)


As a retired health worker, I must congratulate Matt Hancock, our MP, for taking charge of the NHS and ask that he respond, through these columns, to the following health crisis:

His legal duties require that he constantly protect and promote physical and mental health. However, some low-paid employees have moved to universal credit and resorting to local food banks,and have stopped medical treatments because the NHS has unlawfully billed them for claiming free prescriptions, backed with threats of NHS fines and being taken to court.

They must tick the relevant box on prescription forms and sign to “declare” that they have provided “correct and complete” information. Because there is no box for universal credit, the NHS insists that they must provide false information. It must be the correct, false information. They must tick the right, wrong box, and sign to say it is true. Ticking any other wrong box results in deeply disturbing threats from the NHS. Legitimate claimants are not in breach of the law, but civil servants responsible for the crisis are, as proven by the legally binding Civil Service Code.

The simple solution is for Matt Hancock to urgently instruct them to accept that any box can be ticked, if the words next to it are crossed out and in their place, universal credit is noted. That would immediately put the NHS and himself on the right side of the law.

E Hardy

Via email


When universal credit claimants reach for their pens to legitimately claim free medicines, they must tick the relevant box on the prescription form and sign to declare that they have provided the correct and complete information.

As there is no universal credit box, they are in effect forced to make false statements. This has resulted in the sending out of invalid bills backed up by fines, to many individuals. Some of these vulnerable people have made the decision to no longer take the medication and cease necessary treatment.

The previous Secretary of State and other MPs across the country have been asked to deal with this further anomaly about universal credit, but no action has been taken to date.

I would urge you to contact West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, the newly-appointed Health Secretary, to address this issue.

Amanda Skull

Via email


I was dismayed this week to see the new appointment of Matt Hancock. I had cause to write to him last year but did not receive a reply or even an acknowledgement. I then contacted the local council office who told me he was very busy but she would forward my details to him. Yet again no contact, so I called the helpful person at the council office again to check the information had been forwarded, which it had.

I decided to write again, saying that as he wasn’t interested in one of his constituents, perhaps he could furnish me with the name of someone who was, adding that I appreciated that he was very busy, then I received a reply! I also know of a charity that contacted him and, like me, had no response. So sorry, I have no faith in Mr Hancock as the new Health Secretary, but I do in the West Suffolk Hospital.

Jacqui McKay

Bury St Edmunds


Are you 16 or 17, or do you have memories of life at this often challenging age? If so, you may be interested in entering a creative writing competition being run by The Children’s Society as part of our charity’s Seriously Awkward campaign.

The campaign aims to improve life for vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds by securing more sustained help for them as they move into adulthood with issues like mental health, housing and access to employment.

For the competition - run in partnership with Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House - we are looking for fictional stories by unpublished writers of up to 2,000 words about this awkward age, with categories for young people aged 16-25 and adults aged 26 and over.

Whether you are an aspiring writer or have never before written, why not think about what life can be like for 16 and 17-year-olds and craft your own story?

The prospect of adulthood and greater independence can be both exciting and terrifying. For the most vulnerable young people this emotional rollercoaster can come with significant risks including child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health problems.

Writing experts including international best-selling author Emma Healey, who has just published her second novel Whistle in the Dark, will judge the competition. The winners will be offered expert advice and feedback by top literary agencies Darley Anderson and David Higham Associates.

Your story can highlight the ups and downs of this age, be in any fiction genre and be written from any perspective.

If you’re feeling inspired, please visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk/writing to find out more and enter by August 31 this year. Good luck!

Matthew Reed

Chief Executive

The Children’s Society


“Isn’t it time to think again?” So wrote Kay Thomson (Readers’ Views, June 29). About what exactly, Kay? A second referendum on EU withdrawal? No, Kay - however, I agree that it would appear that the current negotiations are a shambles.

I voted for a clean Brexit and not for any so-called “bad” deal exit and although a “no deal” exit may not be desirable, I would not be upset if this came with Britain leaving the single market and the customs union and Britain taking back control of our borders and money (in other words a clean and full Brexit). Bring it on, I say.

I am saddened when I hear and read that former Prime Minsters, along with the billionaire financier George Soros and his Best for Britain group and Open Britain, etc, are all running a new and well-funded Project Fear campaign in order to turn the public and MPs against Brexit.

Some might suggest that if such people want to undermine Brexit and don’t believe in the democratic principles of our country, then they are welcome to emigrate to a variety of countries throughout the world where they would fit in nicely. Countries with dictators with similar views of overthrowing any opposition. But I could not comment.

It reminds me of the Israelites being freed from Egypt and moaning in the wilderness: fed up with the long trek ahead, apprehensive of what was in front of them and harking back to that which was familiar to them.

Theresa May is no Moses, but she’s all we have got at the moment.

Ian Smith

Bury St Edmunds


I would remind Kay Thomson (Readers’ Views, June 29) that Brexit is not all about trade. Far too much emphasis is being put on this aspect and not enough on our independence.

We are currently ruled by the superstate that the EU has become. We need to control our own borders instead of being ordered by the EU to let everyone in. In fact, I agree with the letter from Philip Hodson over the “settled status” of millions of migrants we have already been forced to let in by the EU. To quote UKIP, “Britain is full”! It is clear that the NHS is stretched, welfare is stretched, and houses are being built on greenfield land.

This is the similarity to the Titanic which Kay Thomson refers to. Britain is sinking under the weight of too many “passengers”! Added to this, our fishing industry has been ruined by EU supertrawlers Hoovering up all the fish in our fishing grounds, so we need to re-establish territorial waters.

Do people realise that 70 per cent of our laws are being rapidly overruled? Another thing we need to regain control over.

I am certain that we can trade with the world instead of being restricted by the EU. We did this before 1973, when we were “tricked” into joining this conglomerate.

John Shayer



Looking at the shambles that the Conservative Party has got into over Brexit makes you wonder how much worse could the running of this country get. It doesn’t take the wisdom of Solomon to see what a disaster this whole farce is turning into.

We know that food and medicines are being stockpiled, so the logical question is, when will the ration cards be issued?

I asked our MP a week ago if there was any truth in the rumour that ration books are already being printed; no answer there, so one must assume that it’s true.

John Major was right with his description of the the anti-Europe far right of his party, it now seems that a complete division of the party is on the cards. Still, it makes sense of the old Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”.

Mr J K Apps

Bury St Edmunds


I have had to resign from my job as deputy manager at Bury St Edmunds RSPCA charity shop.

This is just an enormous thank you to all customers, volunteers, trustees and management, past and present, who made the last four years so special.

I will still be around to help out however I can, so you haven’t got rid of me completely. All my love,

Sue Collins

Via email


Recently I was very ill and we had to call for an ambulance, which arrived within five to 10 minutes. Three paramedics immediately assessed the situation and quickly took the relevant action. On arrival at West Suffolk Hospital A&E department, doctors acted quickly, giving medication, before I was transferred to intensive care and finally to ward G9.

Throughout this two-week period I was treated with great respect and care by all doctors, nurses and other staff. It was difficult to believe how the nurses kept smiling, asking if we needed painkillers or other services, after working a 12-hour shift. English and foreign staff were totally devoted to their profession, even though some nursing grades hardly earn enough to pay their overheads at the end of the month.

We are so lucky to have such a hospital of excellence, with the latest medical facilities,beatufil food, and staff who only wish to make patients well.

We are now celebrating 70 years of the NHS, but hospitals are struggling with staff shortages and debt caused by austerity. I was amazed to read in the Daily Mail (July 7) that the Department for International Development has employed 348 extra pen-pushers at a cost to taxpayers of £20million. This increase in UK-based staff has seen costs rise £168million to £188million. Why is £14billion given to other countries, while our public services face austerity? We have seen from past investigations that a high percentage of our gifts go to useless or wasted projects. Also, why is it that many other countries do not pay up 0.7 per cent of national income like the UK?

Our NHS is constantly improving, but we would encourage more people to train as doctors or nurses if we paid these hard-working lifesavers a proper wage. How many doctors and nurses could we teach for £14billion?

Please think about these facts and put pressure on your Members of Parliament to stop wasting money overseas when we need urgent help with the NHS, fire services and police.

Finally, thank you West Suffolk Hospital, for looking after me and all your patients.

Gerald Cartwright

Bury St Edmunds


I have to take issue with David Nettleton (Readers’ Views, July 13) regarding what he refers to as “second best” when referring to the shows/artistes put on at the Apex in Charter Square. Perhaps – due to limited seating capacity – we can’t attract some of the top names, which you could say makes The Apex not fit for purpose. Nevertheless, I defy anyone describing The Bratislava Hot Serenaders, The Ladyboys of Bangkok, Robert and Antell, and That’ll be the Day, to name but a few, as being second best. Taking both The Bratislava Hot Serenaders’ and The Ladyboys’ shows in particular, they are quite unique in themselves, and are of West End standard, making us in Bury lucky to have them as they tour the country.

Brian Davies

Bury St Edmunds


In response to your reader’s comments on Armed Forces Day (‘An upsetting vision of fun’, Readers’ Views, July 13), I, too, was deeply disturbed to see young children being encouraged to play with firearms. My family felt unable to visit the Abbey Gardens that day as a result. Armed Forces Day is, I believe, a Government initiative aimed at ‘hooking’ young children into a future career in the Armed Forces. While respecting the bravery of the personnel involved, I look forward to as much money and resources being put into celebrating our Unarmed Forces, such as firefighters, ambulance staff, police and community workers, as well as all those brave people working, unarmed, in conflict areas to prevent violence and promote reconciliation.

Avril Dawson



I refer to the article on page 10 of last week’s Bury Free Press highlighting the vandalism residents are experiencing in the Thingoe Hill Northgate Avenue area where I live. Sadly, since its publication I have been told of other incidents both here, and in other parts of the town, and of the distress residents suffer.

I want to correct one part of your report, however. It is untrue that, as stated by their spokesperson, that the council was unaware of vandalism in this area. I contacted both the police and the council’s families and communities team on April 3, following complaints from residents. I raised then the issue of CCTV.

The police responded promptly giving the damage a crime number and responding to other issues raised by one of the residents. The council officer also responded, indicating they would investigate with other organisations such as Suffolk County Council and would get back to me. They didn’t.

On May 27, I reported further vandalism, including damage to the trees, graffiti and damage to my and neighbours’ cars, again raising the issue of CCTV. Again, the officer said they were collecting information and would be in touch.

And, naturally, I reported the damage and destruction of the trees on July 9. I am pleased to say that, following that email, a meeting to discuss a way forward has now been arranged between the council, the police and me. I am also pleased to report that county councillor David Nettleton will fund a replacement tree.

Julia Wakelam

Councillor for Risbygate Ward

St Edmundsbury Borough Council

  • Your letters are welcome – please try to keep them brief. Email letters@buryfreepress.co.uk ; send by post to Readers’ Views, Bury Free Press, King’s Road, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3ET ... or simply drop your letter in at our King’s Road offices.

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