SIR – You often publish letters from doctors saying that surgeries are “open”. In common with many people who are deaf or hearing impaired, I can’t use the phone. So phone consultations are not helpful to me.

Many GP practices don’t acknowledge emails, so there is no way of contacting them other than visiting the surgery or writing a letter.

This appears to be in breach of the Equality Act and the NHS Accessible Information Standard.

Susan Bright
Twickenham, Middlesex


SIR – I was prepared for both my husband and myself to die from Covid. Pandemics take out the old; the young and vigorous should carry on.

But I was not prepared for watching my husband suffer for months with no treatment. The NHS has wilfully neglected him and continues to do so.

Elizabeth Bellamy
Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire


SIR – I am quarantined at present. Needing a new prescription I telephoned my GP surgery, and was abruptly told that they did not talk about prescriptions over the phone, and that I should contact 111. This I did, and, after a very long wait, was told that 111 only deals with emergency prescriptions. I was referred back to my surgery.

Reluctantly, I contacted a friend, who called – breaking quarantine – and took my repeat prescription request in for me. It was ridiculous, but I offer no apologies.

Jacqueline Davies
Faversham, Kent


‘Slaver’ PMs

SIR – The custodians of the parliamentary art collection need to make clear what has become of the “several hundred portraits of people linked to the slave trade” removed from the Palace of Westminster (report, October 1). Have they gone to some secret hall of shame?

Public shame apparently awaits three prime ministers: Liverpool, Gladstone and Peel. The special slave-trade plaques now planned for their portraits would seriously distort historical understanding.

The issue, which has become an overwhelming Left-wing obsession today, did not dominate their lives. They had many other pressing national concerns. Even during the limited time they gave to it, their attitudes did not remain constant.

In the 1790s, Liverpool resisted withdrawal from a trade that would be immediately taken over by our commercial rivals; by 1815 he had been persuaded of the case for abolition.

The young Gladstone argued that Britain should concentrate on improving the living conditions of slaves; later he became a founding member of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade.

In the 1840s, Peel sent the Navy to the African coast to suppress the trade, as part of a sweeping programme of reform at home and abroad.

Plaques focusing unfairly on today’s obsession would dishonour the memory of our statesmen. MPs and peers must put a stop to the plan.

Lord Lexden (Con)
London SW1


SIR – If poor old Gladstone is to be labelled a slaver, should Lloyd George be identified as an adulterer?

Julien Chilcott-Monk
Winchester, Hampshire


Card-carrying Tories

SIR – I attended the virtual Conservative conference session “Meet the Chairmen”. The format was question-and-answer, so I asked them: why did they refuse to give party membership numbers, and would their answer be different if they were elected by, and accountable to, members?

The question was not selected.

We have had 20 party chairmen in the last 30 years. Each has said “membership is increasing”, yet we have seen it fall dramatically. In a democratic organisation, transparency and accountability are essential.

John E Strafford
Chairman, Campaign for Conservative Democracy
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire


Peatland protection

SIR – Land managers do not “burn” peat (report, October 1). They carry out controlled heather burning. The aim is not to harm the peat or moss, but to let light into the vegetation understorey. This benefits peat-forming plants, as well as birds of conservation concern.

Blanket bog can capture carbon, and burning is part of the management. Grouse moors have also been involved in blocking old agricultural drains in uplands and the planting of sphagnum, which help to mitigate flooding.

Amanda Anderson
Director, Moorland Association


Bucket and shovel

SIR – Would it be too much to expect those riding horses in suburban streets to carry a bucket and shovel?

It is particularly annoying to see roads and pavements fouled while the riders proceed, apparently oblivious.

David Turner


Can theatres survive?

SIR – Dominic Cavendish (Arts, October 2) related his experience of The Great Gatsby at Immersive LDN and suggested that this is the template for Covid-safe theatre.

Mr Cavendish is right. At The Space, a fringe venue in east London, we have just finished our run of Aristophanes’ Ploutos. This rumbustious and engaging production gained consistent five-star reviews while playing to sell-out, socially distanced audiences of 30 every night (with a ticketed livestream for Friday’s performance).

Our next production, That Was All, starts on Thursday and runs throughout October, and we are welcoming 40 people per night. All the safety measures adopted by the Gatsby team will be used here, too. The delight of audiences getting back to the theatre is palpable.

Is it viable? Barely. Do we wait in nervous hope for the Cultural Recovery Fund awards to be announced on October 12? Yes. Do we believe that theatre will survive? Yes – with the enthusiasm that audiences are showing. Whether at Immersive LDN, The Bridge, regional theatres or here at The Space, the show will go on.

Andrew Straw
Treasurer, The Space Theatre
London E14


Computer scapegoats

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