We will watch in the hope waiting times get better

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Just as one problem appears to be on the way to being mended, another rears its head.

But what we report today is far more important than fixing an old car, or struggling to isolate a leak in the guttering – it’s the news that waiting times for treatment and operations at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth are at their longest for 18 months.

Now, first things first. Contrary to a belief held in some quarters, The News takes no joy in reporting when QA falls behind its targets. We firmly believe you have a right to know how the hospital is performing, as these details will affect any of us who need treatment.

And also, we do not merely look out for bad news. It’s less than a week since we reported that accident and emergency waiting times are continuing to improve after the problems just before and after Christmas, and this is a development we should all applaud.

However, today the hospital explains that its drive to improve – and even just cope with – the situation in the casualty department is in part the cause of the lengthening waits for scheduled, elective operations. It makes sense: beds get commandeered to look after those who are genuine emergencies, while those who can wait with fewer ill effects do so.

However, it behoves all of us to keep an eye on these figures over the next few months, because now the A&E situation is improving, so should, under this logic, the waits for other treatment.

And what this also does is bring home once again how important it is that everyone plays their part.

Health bosses – and indeed this newspaper – have said time and again how important it is that only emergency cases go to A&E, so as to make sure those who need it are seen as soon as possible.

The health system needs to be looked at as a whole – we must realise that the fact it is hard to get an appointment with a GP has a knock-on effect on the numbers attending casualty, and therefore on other operations.

We all want the best health service we can have, both nationally and locally. Informed scrutiny is no bad thing, and nor is taking personal responsibility.