People working on the front line of Merseyside’s health and social care services have had their backs to the wall throughout the winter.
They are working desperately hard to maintain a decent level of care for patients.
But the strain on A&E units, in particular, has become overwhelmingly difficult to deal with.
One nurse who recently contacted me described herself as ‘broken’.
The nurse reported that up to five ambulances at a time are queuing each night to offload their patients, as the A&E unit they work at is full to capacity.
Likewise, patients are reporting to me that they have been in a queue of eight trolleys waiting in a corridor to be seen at A&E.
Nurses are worried for patients and their families, as well as colleagues whose morale is fast approaching rock bottom.
Something has to give.
The funding of the NHS is currently built upon extremely shaky foundations.
A failure to address this problem will further undermine patient care and staff morale.
Having recently been invited to give evidence to a key House of Lords Select Committee examining the long-term future of the NHS, I have submitted a proposal for an immediate penny increase in National Insurance contributions to plug the financial black hole in the NHS.
I have also suggested that this should form the first move towards a new National Health and Social Care Service, funded in full by a reformed, progressive National Insurance system.
Any attempts at relieving the pressure on the NHS will necessarily need to begin with a serious effort to treat more people away from hospital.
A combined, adequately funded National Health and Social Care Service would offer the best possible chance of achieving this outcome.