IN all the political toing and froing on Brexit, it would be easy for some pretty important domestic matters to get pushed down the Government’s agenda.

One such issue is the National Health Service.

Figures published over the weekend show an enormous jump in the number of patients waiting on trolleys for more than 12 hours in accident and emergency (A&E) departments while a bed is found for them during the coldest months of winter.

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The 10,546 per cent rise over the space of five years is truly shocking, and has no doubt been exacerbated by wide-scale cuts to social care funding, leaving elderly, vulnerable people with no option but to attend A&E when they are ill, and unable to leave hospital to recuperate at home in the community due to a lack of support.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which analysed the data, estimates the NHS needs 5,000 extra beds to cut the delays and warns that it expects hospitals to be even more stretched this winter than last, with the flu vaccine likely to be less effective.

President Dr Taj Hassan says patients are suffering, and adds: “Along with more doctors, we desperately need more beds to stop the system from grinding to a halt.”

Amid all the headlines about Brexit, it is vital these warnings are given the attention they desperately need if another winter NHS crisis is to be avoided – both by those in Government and the Opposition politicians whose job it is to hold them to account.

As crucial as the Brexit deal is, the state of the nation’s public services cannot be put to one side while an agreement with Europe is reached.