YET again, the NHS finds itself in a very difficult position as the inevitable pressures characteristic of the busy winter period have left healthcare services struggling to cope.

Accident and emergency performance figures for December were the worst on record.

At major A&E departments in Cheshire and Merseyside, just 73.2 per cent of patients were seen within the four-hour target, below the national average of 77.3 per cent.

There is, of course, a story behind each of these damning statistics.

A story of a patient who, despite the best efforts of hardworking staff who have been tirelessly grafting in increasingly difficult conditions, is not getting the level of care they ultimately deserve from the NHS.

There is of course the wider story ...

The story of a government who, despite repeated warnings over the pressure the NHS will face this winter, failed to adequately fund services to prepare them for the inevitable challenges ahead.

Politicians of all parties must come together and work towards a long-term funding plan for the NHS that will reverse this dangerous tide and ensure a more sustainable future.

Dr Kaliash Chand BMA North West regional council chair Wallasey