What would Nye Bevan say? The visionary MP for Ebbw Vale took inspiration from Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society when, as health minister, he founded the NHS.

Today that organisation celebrates 75 years of service to the people of Wales and the wider UK. That anniversary is cause for celebration. When we need treatment, it could be cancer or a sprained knee, we do not need to think ‘can I afford it?’.

We take that for granted but it is not the same the world over. The basic principle of our care being free at the point of need is treasured and fiercely protected. And rightly so.

We all take pride in the thousands of people who work in our NHS. We applauded them in the streets during the pandemic but before and since we have held them in equally high regard. If someone says they are an NHS nurse, we immediately feel proud and grateful. ‘Good for you’, ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’ cross our minds, even if they are not always spoken.

But our pride in the NHS and the people who work within it, should not cloud our view of the challenges it faces or the state it is in.

Here in Wales, our waiting times are long. Getting an appointment with a GP is difficult. Some communities have seen GP surgeries closing and moved further away. Many people face anxious waits for diagnosis or treatment for serious diseases or chronic and life impacting conditions and pain.

Yesterday, on the eve of the 75th anniversary celebrations, First Minister Mark Drakeford and former health minister Vaughan Gething were giving evidence before the UK Covid-19 public inquiry.

The early focus of the inquiry is preparedness and it is clear the NHS in Wales was not prepared. Plans had not been updated, and what plans there were had flu at the centre, ministers were not well briefed – Mr Gething admitted even during the pandemic he had not read documents, relying on verbal briefings from aides.

These problems are not unique to Wales. Indeed some of the challenges were worsened by the distraction of Brexit, which became the focus of government at all levels for several years.

But the hearings do not reflect well on the leadership of our NHS and government. In the Senedd yesterday, while the first minister was in London, as Trefnydd (leader) Lesley Griffiths stood in, both the NHS anniversary and the Covid inquiry were raised.

When attacked by opposition members, she wheeled out the usual tropes of lack of money handed down from Westminster and 13 years of Conservative austerity. On Covid, she refused to engage, deflecting by saying it was not appropriate to comment outside of the inquiry.

While there may be truth in what she and her Labour fellows say, our NHS needs leadership, not excuses.

If we are to meet the challenges of the coming decades, the NHS will have to change again. Our service has always been good at patching people up and sending them out the door.

It needs to do more to prevent them ending up there in the first place, whether that’s mental health services, helping people to better manage their conditions, improving support at home, educating people to live better.

There are examples of schemes where this is working but our NHS and the wider social care and support system needs another revolution.

The leadership and inspiration behind the founding of the NHS came from Wales. Rather than excuses, deflection and political blame, it’s time for Wales to show the way once again. It's not about what Nye Bevan would say, rather what would be do. And whether our current crop of politicians can step up to do the same.