THE weather has turned a little chill this week, with condensation forming on windows, but we know that, as sure as eggs is eggs, that worse – that winter – is just around the corner.

This is what makes the state of our hospitals so alarming: they seem to be working flat out now, but when the flu season starts and mingles with Covid as the temperatures plummet, things will certainly not ease. It looks like a long winter ahead for the already exhausted NHS.

We do all need to play our part. It is astonishing that NHS workers are reporting increasing amounts of abuse aimed at them. Yes, nine hour waits to be seen, as are happening in Newcastle, are frustrating but nothing – nothing – gives people the right to abuse staff.

We all need to think about what constitutes an emergency and whether a GP or pharmacist could help; we all need to think about what we can do to minimise our chances of getting ill. That includes getting flu and Covid vaccinations, and it does also mean maintaining a social distance, of thinking about ventilation and, of course, of wearing masks – which would stop both Covid and flu.

The Government cannot magic up extra NHS capacity, but MPs should be setting an example when they are crammed on the benches by wearing masks. They can cut down on infections but also a very visible reminder that we are still in the grip of the pandemic.