Ham&High letters: Sheep on the Heath, Hampstead police station, Royal Free, Ravenscroft Medical Centre and release Aser

Five new sheep on the Heath spent their first day snacking. Picture: Polly Hancock

Five new sheep on the Heath spent their first day snacking. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

Great to see sheep back on the Heath

Peter Croft, Fawley Road, Kilburn, writes:

It's great to see sheep grazing on the Heath - let's hope it becomes the norm in future.

How about some of the staff using horses to get about rather than motor vehicles?

We could pull together to save police station

Andrea Taylor, Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead, writes:

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As a Hampstead resident all my life, for very many decades to include my parents before me, I write in response to letters in the August 8 edition of the Ham&High from the Hampstead Committee for Responsible Development and the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Panel, both of which advocate alternative/community use for the old Hampstead police station.

I and many of my colleagues entirely agree with the sentiments expressed in both those letters and feel very strongly that this grand old building should somehow be brought back into community use which is what it was built for and what it deserves.

Surely if we all pull together under the umbrella of the two groups who wrote the letters, the Heath and Hampstead Society and our marvellous Jessica Learmond-Criqui, we can come up with a plan that could include a base for police and for the Safer Neighbourhood Panel.

Given the two-page spread in a national newspaper last weekend about the appalling crimes going on in this part of London and the fear of many of us who live here, this seems an appropriate time to unite and give ourselves back a central point from which to work on safety and security for us all.

If an appeal is set up to buy back the building and restore it internally, I would like to think that everyone who lives in NW3 and the surrounding areas would want to give generously to such an essential community project - as we all did decades ago when we rescued Burgh House.

Ultimately, there would obviously be some space left spare in the building but I am quite sure that there are a lot of local people with ideas that could be made to work, whether by renting single rooms or suites of rooms or just using space in general - I myself have ideas although I shall keep them to myself for the moment!

As to the old magistrates' court, it should of course be respected and kept as it is and everyone knows it would make the most wonderful meeting place for local amenity groups and similar.

We welcome all such groups to use St Stephen's as we make that available for community use as often as possible, but it cannot be anything but good to have more than one such space and I suspect that the very knowledge of it being there will inspire thought processes for further ideas for potential use.

Come on Hampstead - we are Hampstead - we can do this if we all pull together.

Hospital responds to annual report

Caroline Clarke, chief executive, Royal Free London group, writes:

We would like to respond to your article of last week.

Our annual report is an opportunity for us to reflect on our successes and also to be open and honest about the challenges we have faced and will face in the year ahead.

Our amazing staff work incredibly hard every day to deliver the very best care for patients and in 2017/18 we opened a new hospital at Chase Farm on budget and on time, launched a new electronic patient record and served 1.6million people across 20 sites.

We are one of the largest trusts in the country and, like many others, have a number of loans with the Department of Health and Social Care, including funds required for the redevelopment of the emergency department at the Royal Free Hospital. These loans are for the trust's essential day-to-day business.

We have an annual turnover of just over £1billion and achieved a £43m saving in 2018/19 by identifying opportunities to become more efficient and reducing waste. This year we have a financial improvement plan in place to reduce our spending by £49.5m.

The Royal Free London was one of four NHS hospital trusts chosen to set up and lead a group of NHS providers who will share services and resources in order to improve the experience of our staff and patients. Our group model is already starting to show real benefits to patients, reducing the length of stay for hip and knee operations and keeping more mothers and babies together by reducing admissions to our neonatal unit.

We recognise that 2019/20 is a year when we need to consolidate and focus on ensuring that our financial and operational performance - including referral to treatment times - matches the high standards of care for which we pride ourselves.

Health chiefs must rethink GP move

Clareine Enderby, Liberal Democrat, prospective parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, writes:

It seems extraordinary that Barnet CCG has approved the transfer of patients from Ravenscroft Medical Centre in Golders Green to Finchley Memorial Hospital, three miles and a difficult bus journey away (Ham&High). This is despite the resounding opposition the proposal received in the consultation period.

Patients are to be expected to travel a considerable distance to access their GP service. This will adversely affect all patients of the practice, especially those who have restricted mobility or are too ill to travel such distances to reach their care.

Requiring patients to travel by bus for several miles and then walk for over 10 minutes from the bus stop is not reasonable, as many patients will not be able to drive. Parents with pushchairs and babies and toddlers in tow will also find such journeys too difficult for the regular infant checks they require. The elderly and disabled will struggle, and observant Jewish patients will also face difficulty in travelling to appointments around the Sabbath and religious festivals.

The relocation is likely to put pressure on other local GP practices in the Golders Green area as patients may feel obliged to re-register elsewhere to retain a local GP.

Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group should think again about moving this practice, as the distance seems too great, the impact on patients too negative and the public transport options not adequate. I trust a judicial review will not prove necessary and the decision will be rethought.

Join us to call for Aser's safe release

Hornsey & Wood Green Group, Amnesty International, write:

Aser Mohamed was 14 when he was detained on an early morning raid at his family home in Cairo on January 12, 2016.

There was no search or arrest warning, and he "disappeared" for 34 days. His family were frantic with worry.

He now faces a string of charges, such as belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, that he says were based on "confessions" extracted under torture during his unlawful detention, and he faces 15 years in prison.

He's being held in inhuman conditions in a four- by six-metre cell and bears marks of torture and psychological stress.

As a signatory party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Egypt has an obligation to ensure all of its children are free from torture.

This is also enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution under Article 80. After several postponements, his trial is now adjourned to the September 21.

Protest about his unfair, unlawful detention could make all the difference before his trial at the end of September.

Readers can write to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to urge him to release Aser without delay, and to order an investigation into his enforced disappearance and allegations of torture - and to prosecute those responsible in a fair trial (Office of the President, Al Ittihadia Palace, Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt). Please send copies to the Egyptian Ambassador in London, Tarek Ahmed Ibrahim Adel, Embassy of Egypt, 26 South Street, W1K 1DW.

We hope charges can be dropped and he can be released.