THE NHS: WHILE Labour boasts a slight decrease in MRSA infections (Echo, Mar 8) I wonder whether hospitals will ever get rid of it when a culture of politically-manipulated statistics and denial exists in the NHS?

My father died from MRSA in Darlington Memorial Hospital in October. There was no mention of MRSA on his original death certificate issued on the day of his death.

Health Secretary John Reid said that only 321 MRSA deaths have been recorded on death certificates. But just three days before his announcement and four long months after my father's death, I collected my father's corrected death certificate. It reads exactly the same as the original, except for the tiny handwritten correction which appears not in Section 8 (cause of death) but almost as an afterthought at the bottom.

Has my father's MRSA death has been recorded or counted in any NHS or Government statistics? I wonder how many more MRSA deaths go unrecorded? - HS Ridgway, Ingleton, Co Durham.

THE Northern Echo can be justifiably proud of the part it has played in helping to reduce NHS waiting times for heart surgery (Echo, Mar 4).

It is one thing for a newspaper to launch a campaign such as A Chance To Live, but quite another to see it through to success.

The public had lived with long NHS waiting times for so many years that in 1999, with an 18-month wait for heart surgery, it did not seem possible that there could be a reduction.

There were many doubters about the success of such a campaign. But very soon now the maximum wait for heart surgery will be three months - tremendous news.

It must also be noted that this would not have happened without the Labour Government's unprecedented NHS investment. - LD Wilson, Guisborough.

CANCELLED operations, as highlighted by the Margaret Dixon saga, could soon be the norm within the NHS if the Conservatives win the next election.

Their proposed voucher system would mean more private patients at the expense of those unable to pay. Consultants working for the NHS are also employed within the private sector, so it is not difficult to guess where priorities would lie.

Existing private patients, who today pay the full cost of their operations, will receive a 50 per cent reduction at the expense of the taxpayers.

However, I do recognise some value in Michael Howard's "sunset clause". I suggest that Tony Blair adopts it on May 5 as the sun finally sets on the Tory Party.

In the meantime, pensioners need to lock their doors at all times as they are in danger of a visit from Conservative central office. The trauma this could cause might put further pressure on the already overworked NHS. - Maurice Baker, Spennymoor.

OVER the last six weeks I have visited three hospitals for various health reasons: Chester-le-Street, the University Hospital, Durham, and Shotley Bridge.

On each occasion I have been very well looked after by all the doctors, nurses, staff and ambulance staff.

After several tests, thank God, I have been given a clean bill of health for which I am very grateful. So far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with the NHS and it is working well. - Paul Smith, Lanchester.


THE Press is very hard on our excellent Royal Family. I couldn't disagree with your editorial more (Echo, Feb 24).

Who would be aware, seeing that all recent royal weddings have been conducted in the abbey or St Paul's, that a non-religious wedding within Windsor Castle precincts would give carte-blanch to every Tom, Dick and Harry to be married there?

I think they did very well to find out in time, and it would be a stupid commoner who thought up the silly idea.

The Queen has wisely decided not to appear at the registry office. She is nearly 79. She will have a heavy programme for the rest of the day, and the extraordinary way she is followed about by her fellow countrymen and foreigners could make an already hectic situation far worse.

I think a spell under a Saddam Hussein, a Mugabe or a Putin would teach our Press to stop baiting our Royal Family. - G Mather, Thirsk.

PRINCE Charles thinks we British lack compassion. Is this not a bit rich coming from a man who was apparently having an affair with a married woman before his marriage and who continued to do so throughout his marriage? The fact that he was destined to be the future head of the Church of England apparently never entered his head. - Eric Gendle, Nunthorpe.


I WAS amazed to read that headteachers, of all people, jeered Education Secretary Ruth Kelly (Echo, Mar 5) at their conference.

What an example to set pupils. Why shouldn't pupils jeer teachers now?

The heads may not have agreed with Ruth Kelly but she should have her office respected.

Maybe it's not the pupils who fail the education system but those whose duty it is to teach them how to behave. - Hugh Pender, Darlington.


I AGREE with Graham Christer (HAS, Mar 7). I am a pensioner with a disabled badge. Twice in three weeks I have received parking tickets which have cost me £55. Both times I was parked in a disabled bay in Bishop Auckland, displaying my certificate.

Alas, that's the last time we shop in Bishop Auckland.

I wonder if this traffic warden's parents were married. - G Cooper, Willington.


IT IS surprising that the Reverend Paul Walker (Echo, Mar 3) makes no mention at all of Jesus Christ and his teaching in his article about gay priests. Instead, all the quotations are from the Old Testament.

When Christ came, there was a new beginning. He spoke with divine authority and gathered together apostles and disciples; founded a church with St Peter as leader and what had gone before was superseded.

If one rejects Jesus Christ and his teaching, or refuses to acknowledge him as God made man, then anything goes and confusion follows.

I do not belong to the Church of England but it is sad to see others in high places, by their farcical and scandalous behaviour, doing untold harm to that church. They have forfeited the right to be called "Christian". - FG Hickey, Bishop Auckland.


IN reply to J Hall (HAS, Mar 3), the BNP is a necessary party for anyone who values their homeland, who is appalled at the lack of action by this Government to stem the never-ending stream of immigrants to this small island which is too small to cope with them. - J Tomlinson, Darlington.


ON behalf of The Children's Trust, Surrey, I would like to thank Durham University Rag Society 'DUCK' for undertaking street collections in Newcastle in January. The amount raised was £721.35.

We are very grateful to the students involved in the collections, especially during a particularly cold spell of weather. - Lizzie Cook, The Children's Trust, Surrey.