LAST week, I visited East Lothian Community Hospital. It was also an opportunity for me to meet trade union reps, which was humbling.

Like others, I’ve seen on social media how hard it is for so many in the NHS who continue to give so much. Hearing the stories personally was moving and I’m certainly persuaded that a clap isn’t enough.

But the facility itself was equally impressive and is badly needed. Iain Gray MSP campaigned tirelessly for it and he and others deserve enormous credit for that and it’ll be one of his many legacies to the county. For whilst many will still have to go to Edinburgh or even beyond for surgery, treatment thereafter can be given far closer to home. That will be a relief to individuals and their families, for whom the journey was added stress.

For Covid-19 has brought home the need to have much more delivered or obtained closer to hand. In business speak, it’s shortening the supply chain, whether for PPE or anything else, and hence making it here in Scotland. But for services and in the language the rest of us use, it’s about having them closer to your door.

Some things in life, not just medicine, will always require to be centralised. The complexity of the procedure and the risks require it. But wherever possible, everything else should be as local as possible, that having environmental benefits in reducing needless journeys, as well as being easier and more secure. A later meeting with a local community resilience team confirmed that.

But it also brought home to me why so much more from now on has to be built up from within communities. Their actions were equally selfless and inspiring. Maintaining those groups and the work they do will be essential. Agencies will be strapped for cash and may not be able to provide it but, in any event, communities can do it better.