AS the 70th anniversary of the creation of the NHS approaches, there is no doubt whatsoever that the service is in serious trouble. The demands upon the NHS are increasing dramatically and budgets are being overspent in many different areas of the service.

The nation waits to see the promised plan by the Secretary of State that will hopefully set out the Government’s proposals intended to deal with the underfunding of the NHS.

We have seen in the last few months comments on what the plan might contain and these educated guesses mostly hint at a significant increase in the NHS budget and theories on how the additional funding could be raised. It is being claimed that surveys show the public are ready to accept tax rises to solve the NHS crisis.

During the referendum we were told by Brexit campaigners that leaving the EU would provide additional funding for the NHS. We now know that leaving the EU is likely to require us to pay the EU about £40 billion in any exit deal.

My perception is that simply throwing cash at the NHS to solve its problems is not going to be enough. Recently my voluntary work brought me into contact with three ladies who had given long nursing service to the NHS and were now retired. They live in different parts of Wiltshire and are unknown to each other.

One had retired as a nursing sister in a mental health unit. A second had been a midwife for many years. The third had been a sister in an acute hospital. I asked all three if they thought that additional funding was all that was needed to put the NHS back on its feet. I was intrigued to hear all three, without my prompting, give a very similar reply. They all made reference to the need to link additional funding with new initiatives to avoid waste. They all seemed to feel that the hard-pressed clinicians were not well served by the administrators. The comments of these former nurses gave the impression of tension between the clinicians and the bureaucrats.

With the comments of these ladies still fresh in my mind, only a few days ago I saw that the Taxpayer’s Alliance has produced a document listing areas where money is being wasted by the NHS. This organisation committed to looking for waste and inefficiency in the way that our taxes are spent seemed to have reached the same conclusion as the aforementioned three retired nurses.

I have now seen an expectation allegedly from a well-informed source that the Secretary of State will include in his master plan to save the NHS the introduction of IT that will save about £13 billion. The scheme is to provide patients with robot nurses that will save money by reducing staffing levels in hospitals. On reading this my immediate thought was that Florence Nightingale must be turning in her grave.

The bureaucrats in the NHS have an appalling history of failure with major IT projects. The expected savings from the robot nurse project of £13 billion is by coincidence exactly the amount the NHS wasted on its last major IT project.

The exceptional work done by the doctors and nurses in Salisbury to save the lives of those injured by the nerve agent attack shows the NHS at its best.

We need to be assured that those on the front line of treating the sick are being supported by competent hospital managers who will ensure that additional funding is spent wisely.