Star comment: We need to ensure the health of our NHS

There are plans to utilise private hospitals to ease up pressure on NHS hospitals. It is entirely sensible at a time when Covid is causing real problems.

This and the Nightingale units are a good use of resources. It is a good example of the public sector and private sector working together to provide adequate capacity for the nation’s needs.

The winter must be a case of damage limitation, with some planned surgery put back and essential treatment and surgery being prioritised. Yet we must start to look ahead. The worst of the winter may well have passed and we can look forward in coming months to spring, when infections will fall and deaths will be lower.

There must be plans in place to catch up on all of the work missed during an unprecedented period in the NHS’s history. It is a time when the service has succeeded in providing remarkably high levels of care and where its staff have been genuine heroes.

In the months to come, we must start to get our NHS hospitals back to some kind of normality and make sure every effort is made to finally get to grips with the huge backlog of treatment.

That will not be easy, particularly with staffing shortages and with the prospect of people losing their jobs because they refuse to be vaccinated. The NHS has taken the strain during the past two years, now our elected representatives and those who govern hospital trusts must step up. Plans must be in place to remedy the vast waiting lists that have arisen while also making sure that there is adequate capacity in the event of a new Covid variant.

The NHS remains a source of national pride and efforts must be made to ensure its health.

We hear so much about the fragmentation of our society and the ways in which our digital economy has removed the need for human contact. Park Runs are a modern invention that buck the trend. They take place weekly in parks across the region, at 9am sharp on a Saturday. They bring people together of all abilities and they are united in the joy of getting out in the open air and taking in some exercise.

In times when mental health has been under enormous strain, the benefits of physical exercise cannot be overstated. Running may not be your thing, but a swim or even a brisk walk can do wonders. Whether that exercise is done socially with others, or as a way to take in your own thoughts alone, it is something we should all do regularly.

A new-ish year means a new start and incorporating exercise into our daily lives will make us look and feel better.

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