it IS already clear, after the first days of campaigning, that the National Health Service will be a key general election issue that could, potentially, rival Brexit.
This is self-evident as Boris Johnson lauds his government’s hospital building programme – the specific numbers are already subject to conjecture – while Jeremy Corbyn says the NHS will not be for sale in any post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump and the USA.
Yet this trading of statistics and soundbites between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader detracts from a far more nuanced debate that urgently needs to take place about the future of health provision in Yorkshire.
Earlier this week, The Yorkshire Post highlighted the consequences of the decision to shut Pontefract’s midwife-led maternity unit from next week because of longstanding staff shortages.
Now there are fresh fears that services at Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital, which serves large parts of North Yorkshire. could be placed at further risk because of the staffing crisis – and the decision to prioritise the major trauma hospitals and centres of excellence.
However, while this predicament does not easily conform with tried and tested election soundbites, the main parties do need to address the issue of staff – just how do they intend to recruit and retain sufficient doctors, nurses and other clinicians? – and explain their future intentions towards community hospitals like the Friarage.
For, while the focus will be on the marginal seats in urban areas, The Yorkshire Post, for one, will not allow the rural policy agenda to be neglected. It matters too.