WHEN it comes to the NHS and hospitals we’re pretty lucky in St Helens.

St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust – which manages Whiston and St Helens Hospitals – was given an outstanding ranking by inspectors in 2019.

And the Trust was also rated as best in the country by the Health Journal Awards.

Of course the hospitals are by no means perfect, there will be some who disagree with this statement after disappointing experiences.

There are also occasions when patients are badly let down, and often these are brought into the public eye by the Star.

But, all in all, it is this newspaper’s view that we are fortunate to have strongly performing hospitals with excellent leadership, facilities and staff.

There can be no denying though the pressures our NHS is under – both locally and nationally. The reader’s letter to the right on this page paints a personal picture of the anxiety overcrowding at A&E can cause to families and patients. 

And the report on page 11 of the Star (see here) underline the unsustainable pressures the emergency department has been under. 

The report on page 3, (see here) meanwhile, shows how the hospital is planning to install portable buildings as wards, such are the general pressures they face with patient numbers. 

And while the pressure may relent as the peak of the winter period decreases, long-term, the crisis facing the NHS, is not going to go away.

Ageing populations, people living longer with multiple chronic illnesses and public health issues, such as the obesity epidemic and the mental health crisis, are just some of the pressures that NHS leaders will have to respond to.

They need help. In the short term making the right decisions and NHS choices (is A&E always the right place to go or is there an alternative?) and trying to make healthier choices with lifestyles are ways the public can help protect the services the likes of Whiston provide.

But the Government must make sure it delivers the investment required to show it really cares about the NHS and its future.

Brexit is understandably seen as the issue that will define this Government over the next five years, but to many the NHS is equally important.