WHEN it comes to the NHS I think most people would agree that there has not been enough investment through successive governments which is a major contributory factor to its problems today.

Now that the political stuff is out of the way – and after last week’s celebrations of its 70th birthday – let’s focus on what is very right with the NHS today. And why just a quick glance at a local example like the Royal Bolton Hospital shows what a fantastic service it is.

When then Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan became the architect of the post-war National Health Service, the plan was to create something free for all those who needed it. Costs quickly exceeded initial expectations and, in some ways, that has been happening in waves ever since.

What has grown still, though, has been an area of expertise which has changed as people’s needs changed. Today, away from the bed-blocking, the flu outbreaks and the financial stories that often grab headlines, is an organisation that provides a life-saving and caring service for its patients 24 hours a day and every day of the week. And one that has created amazing medical breakthroughs through intensive research.

Everyone has a story about someone whose life has been saved in hospital. Last week there were many tales of individuals who owed their lives to the quick thinking and expert actions of Bolton’s doctors and nurses.

On the simplest level, most people reading this will have been treated in hospital and will have had a positive experience.

Thousands of local people will have started life at the Princess Anne Maternity Unit. They will have had surgery to fix broken bones or treat a life-threatening illness at RBH. They will have had life-changing problems cured. Early diagnosis and treatment will have saved their lives.

We expect to have our mammograms, eye appointments, physiotherapy, ante-natal and post-natal check-ups and the rest available to us.

We expect to have highly qualified and professional staff looking after our health because our experience of the NHS has taught us that it’s there to care for us, even when we’re ungrateful or hyper-critical.

Yet, scroll back time to pre-NHS times and no-one expected free healthcare. This was a new concept and it worked.

The NHS is quite simply remarkable and comes into its own when emergencies strike. Only then do we REALLY appreciate just what it is.