‘Our NHS is not safe in their hands’

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as the impact of the recession bites deeper and harder, most people take a pragmatic view of how that will affect our public services.

Sport centres and libraries closing earlier or on quiet Sundays? Ok, if they must. Fewer janitors, spread around more schools? Sure, so long as core teaching is protected.

But there are some key services where even the most reasonable of us don’t want to see cuts dilute what is on offer.

Quality of education for our kids is one of them. So is the number of police protecting us on our streets. However, the public service which most of us take an almost instinctive interest in protecting is our NHS.

That’s why politicians battle fiercely to be seen as its best protectors at election time. It is why the SNP has pledged to ring-fence it from cuts north of the Border.

And yet, as our story about Annie Scott today amply demonstrates, the NHS is not as safe in their hands as politicians contend.

How could it be when an 85-year-old has to wait in pain for 12 hours for an ambulance – especially when it is clear that while the delay was unusual it was deemed unavoidable on a busier-than-usual Sunday?

No-one thinks endless amounts of money should be poured into the NHS. Most people, including health service workers, know that more efficiencies are possible.

But too often it gets by on the sweat and good will of its workers. And, as Annie’s case shows, sometimes that simply isn’t enough.

Panda-monium

A bit like the trams, at times it has felt like something which might never happen.

At the start the bold bid to bring two Giant Pandas to Edinburgh seemed to have “pie in the sky” written all over it.

But after all the negotiations, trials and tribulations, Tian Tian and Yang Guang are finally coming – and in just five days time.

Then, the mad rush for a glimpse of Edinburgh’s newest money-spinning residents will begin in earnest.

This Sunday will be a landmark day for Edinburgh, and the Evening News has teamed up with the zoo to offer a fantastic prize to our readers.

You – or your child – could be among the first to welcome the pandas to the city in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One lucky young competition winner will be at Edinburgh Airport as part of the official welcome party. Another 50 local families will be at the zoo as the celebrations begin in earnest.

Don’t delay in entering our competition – details are on page 7.