NHS will be in crisis until there is honesty from politicians – and the public listens to such honesty

NHS beds face unprecedented demand

NHS beds face unprecedented demand

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In this newspaper, Sam McBride reports further on something that he uncovered this week – how health waiting list goals have been changed, to make them easier to reach.

Despite the quiet change, targets are still being missed.

This is what happens when politicians of all parties fail to speak candidly to the public about the pressures on health.

For years they have jumped in to support campaigns such as Save The Mid (Ulster Hospital), rather than explaining to people that Northern Ireland has too many hospitals and that this costs too much money and is putting lives at risk.

They have subsidised free prescriptions to people such as me who can afford them.

They have refused to consider ideas such as a modest charge to visit a GP so that time wasters are deterred.

Meanwhile, life expectancy rises ever upwards and the demands on the NHS keep rising.

Until politicians are honest, and until the public listens to such honesty (rather than punishing it at the ballot box) there will be ever more crises.

Waiting lists will grow ever longer and people will die on trolleys or in smaller, inefficient hospitals that should have been closed to make way for bigger, world class centres.

MLAs have hidden behind the Bengoa report, which merely told us what other reports have said over 15 years.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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