THE National Health Service is under pressure on many fronts, including the challenges of an ageing population and public spending cuts.

There have been commitments from government north and south of the border to protect the NHS budget from the worst of the cuts experienced by other departments, but ask the people who know, those who work in the service, and they will tell you of the difficulties.

It is hardly surprising the increase in the number of our older people results in an increase in the numbers admitted to hospital.

This is not a sudden development and the rise in the health problems associated with the elderly is also no unexpected development.

It must be ensured that we have enough trained staff, adequate capacity in our hospitals and also a focus on preventative measures to reduce the pressure on the NHS.

Cuts to other departments like local government who deliver much of the community care lead to a greater burden on hospitals and also bed blocking with a lack of suitable care to discharge patients to so the NHS must be seen in context of other services.

Politicians never tire of telling us how much they love the NHS.

It may be true but the proof is in ensuring it is properly staffed and resourced.