TODAY the National Health Service celebrates its 70th birthday. If it were a person, the NHS would be in its dotage by now, enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

Instead, the service is under greater pressure than at any time in its history.

People are living longer with debilitating conditions, new drug therapies are cripplingly expensive and cuts to social care have left hospitals to deal with the fall out from so-called ‘bed blockers’.

Sometimes it seems as though the NHS is just one serious flu epidemic or winter vomitting outbreak away from complete collapse.

Yet, for all its faults, the NHS remains a world-beater.

For starters it is excellent value. Americans spend nearly three times as much per capita on health care which offers less comprehensive coverage and does not reach the entire population.

With one or two exceptions, it continues to provide universal care free at the point of use and treatments based on clinical need not ability to pay.

Most of all, the NHS is staffed by remarkable people – from the highest paid consultant to the lowliest cleaner. We owe every single one of them – past and present – a huge ‘thank you’ for nursing the NHS this far.

We all love the NHS, but we know it desperately needs more money. The Government has seemingly been in denial about this for many years but now it appears ready to have a serious conversation about tax increases to pay for the service.

If we have to pay a bit more in tax to keep the NHS in good health then so be it.