Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Monday, October 2, 2017

EXHAUSTING: Nurses have spoken out about the toll under-staffing has on their health and well being, as well as patient care. Some fear catastrophe is just around the corner.
EXHAUSTING: Nurses have spoken out about the toll under-staffing has on their health and well being, as well as patient care. Some fear catastrophe is just around the corner.

I WRITE in response to the story ‘Nurses hit breaking point’ (Herald, 22/9) and to some of the comments on the Facebook feed. 

Until you need a nurse when you're in excruciating pain, or when you're baby's birth didn't go to plan and you desperately wait for that first cry, you don't understand exactly what nurses do. We are not handmaidens wiping the brow of the doctors who keep watch over your sickbed. We are your guardians, walking the floors in the middle of the night to ensure you are safe.

This argument isn't about money, although we all know we deserve more. It's about needing more hands to help. How many 18-hour shifts can we do before we crumble? I have been a nurse for 40 years and my daughter is a nurse in emergency. Hospital staff are regularly abused by irate, angry people who seem to think that they should have priority above everyone. She is pint-sized and I worry that one day she will bear the brunt of someone's anger. 

One particularly bad night in ED the staff were being flogged. My daughter said she was OK, they'd get the jobs done, but the sad thing is that you can't give the care that people deserve. We just don't have the time. 

And that's what nurses do. They work their butts off, and yet they still want to do more. I’m worried, like so many others, that someone will die. It may be a patient on a ward with only half the staff they needed, or the nurse who worked overtime keeping you alive crashing her car on the way home

So I say to all the critics that I hope you never really need a nurse, but if you do you will realise that your nurse will do whatever they can to keep you safe and watch your back. But who is watching theirs?

Joanne Patterson, New Lambton

Change for the better

IT must be acknowledged that Catholics are disillusioned with their church, some cutting ties forever. The Church has lost the trust of people because of the horrific behaviour of its priests. It needs to drag itself out of the past and consider the following. 

First, full responsibility must be taken for what has happened instead of denying, covering up and trying to weasel out of supporting and compensating victims of child sexual abuse. Second, chaperones must always be present when a child is in the company of a priest. Third, the term 'Father' should be replaced with 'Reverend'. Also, a shirt, jacket and trousers should replace robes and cassocks. Women should be encouraged to take leadership roles within the church. 

And finally, priests should be able to marry if they wish.

Julie Robinson, Cardiff

Bin plan is rubbish

I REFER to the letter by Les Baldwin (Letters, 28/9). I took his advice and rang the councillor for my ward regarding concerns I have over the proposed new pick up arrangements due to start mid-2018.

I also feel that the new arrangements will prove be totally inadequate. Putting food waste into the already overused green bin is totally unrealistic. It means we will be expected to not only separate glass, cardboard, and plastic for the yellow bin, we now have to sort left over cooked food scraps, peelings, and so on and put them in the green waste bin. The green bin in our house is already stretched in summer with grass clippings, tree cuttings and so on. Mix that with food scraps and I can see this bin becoming a very unpleasant container of smelly items.

Households with babies are really going to struggle with one general waste bin collection every fortnight, nappies take up a huge amount of space, and you can guarantee these general waste bins will still end up being used for excess food scraps that won’t fit in the green bin. The smell after two weeks will be horrendous, to say nothing of the health issues. I believe council need to look hard at this proposal, because I think people will just judge this for what it is, and that is council cutting the cost of council pick ups for general waste in half, and to cap that they are increasing the cost of said waste pick up.

The response of my ward councillor really did nothing to dispel these concerns; he claims council are trying to reduce the government levy on land fill at dumps (currently costing council $12 million a year). He advised that I could wrap my food scraps in newspaper prior to putting in the green bin, and that studies had found nappies sitting in bins for two weeks didn’t increase the smell.

I have just looked at my general waste bin and it has flies all around it after a week, imagine after two? Their offspring will be at maggot stage. Like Les, I think once this starts there will be a lot of very unhappy Lake Mac residents, and if this does in fact come into being I too will be looking at who I vote for next election.

Tony Humphreys, Edgeworth

Forgetting fossil fuels

A SIMPLE letter doesn’t afford much scope to refute the statistical evidence Robert Monteath is able to wheel out in his opinion article on renewable energy's supposedly bleak future (“Life after Liddell: the beginning of the end”, Herald, 27/9).

But such evidence there undoubtedly is. To cite just one source which does challenge his claims, according to the Australian Bureau of Resources and Economics, due to the declining cost of renewable generation (mostly wind and solar) over the period to 2050, electricity production from renewables is expected to grow by 1.5 per cent a year, with wind and solar growing at a rate of 2 and 3 per cent respectively. The share of renewables is expected to increase from 15.3 per cent in 2014-15 to 22 per cent in 2020. 

There is a wealth of other evidence from around the world that indicates that renewables in fact have an extremely bright future. 

However, the more important point to make about Mr Monteath’s article is that he is fundamentally wrong about the two basic premises upon which his argument rests.

The first is that the crucial attribute of renewable power is that it is “endless” not in the sense, as Mr Monteath would have it, that the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, but in the sense that it will never run out. The second is that he, or anyone else, is simply unable to say that we will “never” be able to rely fully on renewable energy.

Who knows what the future holds? The history of technological advancement tells us that what is thought possible almost always turns out to be a pale imitation of what is actually achieved. We will wean ourselves off our reliance on polluting fossil fuels. Because we must. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the need to survive is the greatest necessity of all. 

Michael Hinchey, New Lambton