DOUG Clark continues his electioneering on behalf of the Labour Party (“Voters need to reflect on the last 14 years”, Craven Herald Letters, February 29). Fair enough, but I contend that he offers a rather one-eyed perspective.

He bemoans the state of the NHS and compares it to the situation in 2010. Perhaps he should also comment on the state of the NHS in Wales, which has been run by Labour not the Tories during the last 14 years? Waiting lists there are as bad if not worse than in England. The same with the SNP-run service in Scotland.

A dispassionate (and non-political) view would be that the problems in health services across the developed world are mostly to do with demographics, not politics. As populations continue to have increasing proportions of older people (life expectancy has generally risen inexorably across the globe), demand for medical services accordingly increases almost exponentially.

Added to that, advances in medical science mean that more treatments are available, which adds to the potential burden on a state-funded health service. It’s this double-whammy which means that the supply of health services can never quite keep up with the growing demand. The landscape is very different to the one in 1948 when the NHS was formed.

Because of the tribal nature of our politics, and the electoral cycle, it is difficult for any politician to level with the public and tell it how it is. Maybe a different funding and delivery model is needed for the UK. If our health service is indeed “the envy of the world”, as used to be claimed, how come hardly anyone else copies it?

It would be fantastic if the upcoming electoral discourse featured some grown-up discussion of potential solutions for improvement, but I fear that we will suffer the usual shouty claims and counter-claims about funding, privatisation, waiting lists etc. The real debate should be about our priorities in healthcare, facing up to the realities of an ever-expanding range of healthcare interventions and a growing elderly population (of which I am one).

One last point about privatisation. The NHS doesn’t develop or make the drugs it uses, or any of the medical equipment it uses (whether electronic hardware or daily expendables such as dressings or PPE). It relies completely on the private sector to develop and manufacture these items.

So getting bogged down in emotional debates about “hiving off” sections of the NHS to private contractors is maybe a red herring?

Richard Lowe