Thursday marked 70 years since the birth of the National Health Service. That this much-needed and highly regarded national institution has reached such a great age is undoubtedly cause for celebration and on this day especially, it is perhaps worth taking a moment to reflect on the countless individuals who have worked and continue to work to keep it alive. 

In the face of crippling waiting times, bed shortages, unending shifts at unsociable hours and the looming threat of doctors fleeing British shores after Brexit, NHS staff continue to deliver a level of health care hitherto unrivalled and free at the point of use. Many happy returns. And yet one cannot fail to notice the irony: our NHS is in ill health.

To take some local examples: Nascot Lawn now faces closure after Hertfordshire CCG announced it could no longer afford to support it, Watford General Hospital put in special measures, and a plea for donations in this newspaper to pay for a fleet of cots for the hospital’s maternity ward.

As with anything that comes for free it is also invariably unappreciated. But it does not necessarily follow that all earthly bodies passing into old age in turn make way for the new. Given the enthusiasm of some when that £350million figure was emblazoned on the Leave campaign bus, perhaps we need to reflect on how much we actually value this service and how prepared we are to pay for it. On its 70th birthday perhaps we should be planning for a new lease of life rather than planning for its retirement.