THE NHS will mark its 70th anniversary next week and it seems like the current state of turmoil will never end.

Just over a month after The Northern Echo revealed that cuts to local NHS services had been shelved, today we report that another shake-up could be in the pipeline. Documents seen by this newspaper describe a potential “integrating and optimising” of services through the introduction of a co-ordinated leadership across various NHS organisations.

These plans are at a very early stage, but concerns are already being raised that this will be “another long winded and costly reorganisation”. And campaigners who fought so long and hard to protect services at Darlington Memorial Hospital amid fears it would be hit hardest by the earlier cutbacks will no doubt be worried at the news.

Nationally, the Government has pledged an additional £20bn a year for the NHS by 2024, but yesterday the British Medical Association said the figure was well short of what is needed. Warning of a year-round crisis, officials said the service “lacks doctors, it lacks nurses, it lacks beds. We’re being run ragged.”

The 70th anniversary celebrations should be an occasion to honour the many brilliant achievements of the NHS, and the wonderful, dedicated staff who make it what it is.

But it is also an opportunity for the powers that be to decide if they are content with a stretched, underfunded service facing almost-constant reorganisation, or whether the country deserves better.