YEP Says, January 8: Politicians must stop the point-scoring to fix the health service

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...and the pub that’s still pulling them in after three centuries

PLEAS for the problems facing the NHS not to be used as a political football have fallen on deaf ears, with Labour leader Ed Miliband demanding David Cameron apologise for the mounting “crisis”.

Unsurprisingly, the Prime Minister refuses to do so and instead speaks of “unprecedented pressure” on the health service – not least the 250,000 extra visits made to accident and emergency wards last year.

So what’s the truth? Is the NHS really on the critical list? Unfortunately the political point-scoring means it’s hard to tell – and the claims and counter-claims aren’t going to go away in a hurry with a general election looming.

But there can be no denying there are serious problems that need urgent attention – not just in our hospitals but with GP and ambulance services too.

St James’s and LGI missed their targets on seeing emergency cases within four hours, while we tell today how 88-year-old Joan Mathers was left crying in pain for more than four-and-a-half hours as she waited for an ambulance after a nasty fall.

That’s not to say that there aren’t wonderful examples of staff providing first-class care on a daily basis – as two letters printed opposite prove. But fixing problems that do exist without a bottomless pit of money will be no easy task. First, however, politicians need to stop debating the NHS with one eye on bagging votes for May. It’s far too important for that.

Still pulling them in after three centuries

IT’S hard to put your finger on why the Whitelocks pub is still going strong when so many other bars have fallen by the wayside.

The decor barely changes from one decade to the next and its “beer garden” is actually a glorified ginnel.

But then that’s probably precisely why it still holds a place in so many people’s affections.

In an ever changing world – and a city centre that has had its fair share of facelifts – Whitelocks offers a reassuring familiarity. Not to mention cracking beer and a warm welcome.

Three hundred years and as popular as ever. As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.