I FOUND the COVID-19 testing experience to be confusing.
My husband thought he had symptoms and started ringing Belmont Hospital from 8am on Monday morning last week.
He rang for two days on the hour, recording that the lines were all too busy. On Tuesday at 3pm he eventually got through. The person on the phone didn't recommend my having the test if I had no symptoms. They were very pleasant on the phone, I must say.
A test was booked on Thursday for my husband. The process was quick, but still no results by Wednesday.
A friend rang Belmont hospital last Thursday morning for a test, and had it that afternoon. They had no result on Tuesday but, on ringing her doctor, they had her results: negative, but no one had contacted her. She had isolated over the weekend and it was Mother's Day.
I have rung our doctor again - still no results. Our doctor then requested the results, and I rang back on Wednesday and received them.
We were negative, but it was very stressful.
Chris Johnston, Belmont
HAVING had the experience of specialist attention with ongoing surveillance beyond 12 months, indeed over a number of years, I have often had to attend my GP for a fresh referral, notwithstanding the specialist treatment is still for the original complaint.
This incurs a Medicare payment for the GP issuing a fresh referral.
Considering how many times this must be occurring daily throughout the nation, surely this is an unnecessary drain on Medicare resources when the specialist attention is still for the original complaint.
I don't begrudge any payments to my specialists, I think they're worth every cent, but they have increasing overheads like anyone else and as Medicare have not increased their rebates for over eight years, the gap gets wider. Indeed, some payments have been reduced.
As Medicare contributions are compulsory we don't have the option to "take our business elsewhere".
Something is terribly wrong here.
William Snow, Stockton
DON'T STAY IN THE DARK
REGARDING the events of recent days ("Eight people in hospital after eating lethal wild mushrooms', Herald 14/5), I grew up on a dairy farm in the Otway Ranges of southern Victoria, adjacent to a state forest. The well-manured, open paddocks in the cold, and rather wet, climate were ideal for mushroom growth.
A joyful family practice at this time of the year was hunting for, and eating, mushies, as we called them. Our mother drummed into us children, ever so often, to never pick a mushroom that grew under, or near, a tree.
The primary school I attended was on the top of a mountain, surrounded by pine trees. Several types of colourful toadstools grew among the pine needles on the ground. The big boys used to squash a large yellowish variety with water to lubricate the slides that they had made in ruts in the ground on the steep side of the mountain. Didn't they fly!
We little girls used to think of the pretty, rounded, red-capped ones as fairy houses. We didn't touch them. We definitely knew the difference between an edible mushroom and a toadstool.
Moira Boettcher, New Lambton
CONSERVE ENERGY ON DEBATE
JOHN Ure (Letters, 15/5) criticises "conservative dogma". I think conservative is his favourite word. He uses it frequently, always in a pejorative sense. In a similar vein Michael Hinchey (Letters, 18/4; Short Takes, 28/4), following American political theorist Corey Robins, suggests the conservative mindset is an obsession with power.
For many, conservative is a useful umbrella term to include what they perceive as a host of modern evils including Donald Trump, the Liberal Party and the Catholic Church. I find this convenient label not only simplistic but misleading.
Conservative literally means one who conserves, whose first reaction is not to tear the house down or jump too readily on the latest bandwagon. As the late English philosopher Roger Scruton put it, conservatism starts from the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.
I also find the political label progressive a misnomer because I believe what many self-styled progressives often advocate will lead to no progress whatsoever.
Peter Dolan, Lambton
STEEL CASE NOT SO FIRM
GUY Dundas ('How steel could secure the Hunter's future', Opinion 11/5), leaned heavily upon the Grattan Institute report Start with steel. Using hydrogen instead of coal to make steel will save the Hunter from economic insecurity, apparently.
But a few facts may destroy this romantic notion. Hydrogen gas doesn't exist as a natural mineral resource. It has to be generated out of other materials. In doing so, more energy is consumed than you get back when you burn it. That's effectively an investment that costs more than you can ever get back from it. That should be enough to dismiss hydrogen as a major fuel source.
Hydrogen is also difficult, dangerous and costly to compress, store and transport. If used to make steel, that steel will cost a lot more than steel made with coal. The last 50 years worldwide have seen cheap steelmakers thrive and expensive steelmakers go broke. If using hydrogen gas to make steel made sense, why haven't steelmakers used natural gas over the last 40 years that cheap gas has been available? Perhaps they didn't want to go broke.
The Grattan Institute has expertise in a number of economic areas. I don't think steelmaking is one of them.
Peter Devey, Merewether
POWER MUST BE INDUSTRIOUS
The Newcastle Herald and various media outlets often carry news of improvements in renewable energy, often in relation to the amount of houses it will power.
Unfortunately with power supply, houses or the domestic market account for only a small percentage of power demand. There is the commercial market of offices and shopping centres followed by the industrial market of heavy industry, which runs on 450 volts and often drawing up to 200 amps for power. Compare this to the domestic market's 240 volts drawing between five and 10 amps and you realise why commercial and industrial markets are rarely mentioned in the renewable targets.
I believe renewables will never fuel the other side of power consumption, the side that provides the transport and jobs. It needs a constant base load, difficult with renewable energy depending on favourable weather conditions. Try asking electronic engineers what they need to keep the wheels, the jobs and the economy running. They are strangely rarely consulted.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 0427 154 176 (include name and suburb). Letters should be fewer than 200 words. Short Takes should be fewer than 50 words. Correspondence may be edited and reproduced in any form.
2020 is the year of the rat according to the Chinese zodiac. Like the rat, we are all in hiding; we only go out to get food; we store food to eat later; when people come close to us we run away. But we, the rats, don't panic to grab and store toilet paper.
Richard Ryan, Summerland Point
YOUR headline which included Hunter industries' call for diplomacy and the WA, Queensland, Victoria governments (including the federal Labor Party) all calling for diplomacy ('A bull in a China shop', Newcastle Herald 13/5) is in my opinion really calling for Australians not put Australia first, forget about Australia's sovereignty and put the mighty dollar first. How much have we spent as a nation in an attempt to stamp out bullying, and yet our business and political leaders are seemingly more than happy to accept bullying from a foreign government? What is the line from that great band Status Quo? Roll over lay down and let me...
Andrew Hirst, Beresfield
THE right-wing media had plenty to say about "Shanghai Sam" Dastyari, but nothing about "Guangzhou Gladys" Wu and her alleged Chinese Communist Party affiliation. Prime Minister Scott Morrison must have her in mothballs.
John Bonnyman, Fern Bay
THERE are some sites online where various scientists can place ideas, hypotheses, and untested trials. So far, sections of the media have treated these sites as true information sites. I am so annoyed with the number of times various media reports only include a little bit of information, or misrepresent the information, or even exaggerate information. There must be a way to hold these reporters to some sort of honesty and a reporting style that keeps facts and the reporter's opinion separate. I fear that some of these articles are dangerous.
Kate Bow, Wallsend
SO the NRL are cutting back on field referees to only one to save costs. Maybe they should look at cutting back on the NRL staffers who by all reports number around 400. The game is not broken, and its present problems aren't coming from referees.
Ross Gillard, Boolaroo
IT was disturbing to read Sean Farnham's letter (Short Takes, 15/5) especially his final sentence: "I have never been more ashamed to be an Australian." I am British born, but in these trying times I have never been more thankful and proud to be an Australian.
Elsa Cant, Merewether
WE need more help with being able to distinguish or at least guess how far two metres is. Cram the kids back into school so they can at least learn how to count to two by the time they're young adults. Also a large screen display that flashes and blares alarms whenever someone is within the social distant zone of another should help like the large screen speedometers seen on Newcastle Road and Link Road at Jesmond.
Bryn Roberts, New Lambton
NATE White's rather benign description of Donald Trump reminds me of man's humanity to man. I trick you not.